What is Thrombocythemia?

Thrombocythemia is a rare blood disorder where the body produces too many blood platelets. Platelets are small pieces of blood cells that help the blood clot. When there are too many platelets in the blood, it increases the risk of clotting and can lead to serious medical problems. Thrombocythemia is often classified as either essential thrombocythemia or secondary thrombocythemia.

Signs and Symptoms of Thrombocythemia

Symptoms of thrombocythemia may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Breath shortness
  • Fatigue
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Weakness
  • Numbness in the hands or feet
  • Painful open sores on the hands or feet
  • Nosebleeds

Diagnosis of Thrombocythemia

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history. To confirm a diagnosis of thrombocythemia, doctors may order a complete blood count. This test measures the number of platelets in the blood. Your doctor may also order an imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan, to look for any abnormalities in the organs.

Treatment of Thrombocythemia

Once your doctor has confirmed a diagnosis of thrombocythemia, the following treatments may be recommended:

  • Blood thinners: Blood thinners help lower the risk of blood clots by making it harder for clots to form.
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy drugs work by blocking the activity of certain proteins that cause platelet production to be excessive.
  • Stem cell transplant: This procedure involves replacing the unhealthy bone marrow with healthy stem cells.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to correct structural abnormalities in the organs or blood vessels.

Complications of Thrombocythemia

Thrombocythemia can cause a number of serious health complications, including:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Blood clots in the lungs
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Organ damage
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Excessive bleeding