Drugs That Cause Low Blood Platelets

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Introduction

The condition of low blood platelet count is called thrombocytopenia, whether the condition is caused by a health condition such as leukemia, for example, or drugs. A platelet count between 150, 000 and 350,000 per microliter of blood is normal. A platelet count under 100,000 platelets per microliter of blood is cause for concern; 20,000 to 30,000 platelets per microliter of blood can be life threatening. Symptoms of thrombocytopenia include an increase in bruising and easy bruising, lengthy bleeding from cuts, instant bleeding from the nose and gums, bloody urine or stools, menstrual flow that is heavier than usual, and a lot of bleeding during surgical procedures. The most common type of thrombocytopenia is caused by drugs prescribed for different conditions. These drugs can include antimalarial, antiviral, chemotherapy and antibiotic drugs.

Chemotherapy Drugs

Chemotherapy drugs cause low platelet counts by suppressing bone marrow production. When this occurs, the bone marrow isn't as capable of producing enough blood platelets. If the condition is serious enough, the patient may require a platelet infusion or must be admitted to a hospital until the platelet count is closer to normal. While in the hospital, if it is a drug that is causing the low platelet count, in most cases the patient will be taken off the drug. Usually this will bring the blood count back up. In some cases, a platelet transfusion will be given to bring up the platelet count.

Quinine

Quinine is an antimalarial drug, but it is also in some foods such as tonic water and soda. Quinine destroys blood platelets, and this can cause low platelet counts in some people who are sensitive to the drug.

Heparin

Heparin is a blood-thinning drug that is used to make blood less likely to clot. However, in certain instances, heparin increases clot formation, and the blood platelet count can go down because the body is using up so many blood platelets. When the body uses a lot of platelets to make clots, these platelets are not counted during the platelet count. Only the ones not being used to make clots are counted, and the test will show a lowered count.

Penicillin

In some patients, penicillin causes blood platelets to clump together, and this can produce a lower blood platelet count.

Diuretics

Diruretics can cause low platelet counts by slowing down the production of blood platelets. Diuretics slow platelet production by suppressing the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells of which platelets are one type.

Dilantin, Vancomycin, and Rifampin

Dilantin, vancomycin, and rifampin are all antiseizure medications. In some cases, they can cause a reaction whereby the body is fooled into destroying its own blood platelets. This produces a low blood platelet count.

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