When thrombocytopenic purpura first begins to develop, the symptoms of the condition may be very mild or non-existent. The initial symptoms of the condition include fever, headache, malaise, and diarrhea. These symptoms are generally mild and many individuals attempt to treat the symptoms with rest and over the counter medications, believing that they have caught a minor illness. As the condition progresses, more symptoms of the condition begin to appear, many of them serious. The longer the condition remains untreated, the more severe the symptoms will become until they ultimately prove fatal. Because thrombocytopenic purpura can affect many areas of the body, the symptoms that may appear due to the condition are numerous.
The characteristic symptom of thrombocytopenic purpura is purpura, which is the appearance of numerous bruises or purple spots beneath the skin due to uncontrolled bleeding. There is no trauma associated with the formation of purpura and the size of the bruises range from pinpoint to several millimeters in diameter. Purpura is caused by the reduction of the number of healthy platelets in the blood, which causes uncontrolled and spontaneous bleeding to occur. Other signs of low platelet levels in the blood include spontaneous nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums, and wounds that will not heal.
The blood clots created by thrombocytopenic purpura occur mainly in the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and kidneys. Blood clots in the blood vessels that supply the brain may result in headaches, altered mental state, bizarre behavior, and stroke. Clots in this area may also lead to difficulty speaking, numbness, and/or paralysis. Thrombocytopenic purpura causes kidney failure in nearly half of the individuals affected by the condition. Other symptoms that may appear during the development of thrombocytopenic purpura include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, muscle pain, joint pain, and seizures. Sudden vision loss due to the detachment of the retina is also possible.
When the clots created by the development of thrombocytopenic purpura begin to destroy the red blood cells in the circulatory system, a serious condition called anemia may result. Anemia occurs because the low levels of healthy red blood cells in the body are not enough to bring oxygen to all parts of the body. The symptoms of anemia vary depending on the severity of the condition. The common indications that anemia has developed includes fatigue, lethargy, pale skin, jaundice, and shortness of breath. Anemia becomes worse the longer it remains untreated and will eventually become fatal. Individuals that suffer from anemia may require regular blood transfusions to maintain the health of the patient and reduce the effects of the condition.
Until recently, the mortality rate of individuals that had developed thrombocytopenic purpura was around 80%. With the discovery of current treatment and better diagnostic methods, that rate has dropped to around 20%. There is no way to predict which individuals will develop the condition and there is no way to prevent the condition from developing. Research continues into the most effective treatment methods to use for thrombocytopenic purpura and improve the patient’s quality of life.
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