Living with Immune Thrombocytopenia

If you have immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), you can take steps to prevent complications. Lifestyle changes and ongoing care can help you manage the condition.

Lifestyle Changes

Try to avoid injuries, especially head injuries, that can cause bleeding in the brain. For example, don't take part in contact sports, such as boxing, football, or karate. Other sports, such as skiing or horseback riding, also put you at risk for injuries that can cause bleeding.

Some safe activities are swimming, biking (with a helmet), and walking. Ask your doctor about physical activities that are safe for you.

Take precautions such as regular use of seatbelts and wearing gloves while working with knives and other tools.

If your child has ITP, ask his or her doctor whether you need to restrict your child's activities.

Ongoing Care

You may want to find a doctor who is familiar with treating people who have ITP. For example, hematologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating blood disorders. Discuss with your doctor how to manage ITP and when to seek medical care.

Talk with your doctor before taking prescription medicines or over-the-counter medicines, supplements, vitamins, or herbal remedies. Some medicines and supplements can affect platelets and increase your chance of bleeding. Common examples are aspirin or ibuprofen. Your doctor may advise you to avoid these medicines.

Watch for symptoms of infection, such as a fever, and report them to your doctor promptly. If you've had your spleen removed, you may be more likely to become ill from certain infections.

Immune Thrombocytopenia in Pregnancy

In women who are pregnant and have ITP, the ITP usually doesn't affect the baby. However, some babies may be born with or develop low platelet counts soon after birth.

The babies' platelet counts almost always return to normal without any treatment. Treatment can speed up recovery in the babies whose platelet counts are very low.

Treatment for ITP during pregnancy depends on a woman's platelet count. If treatment is needed, the doctor will take a close look at the possible effects of the treatment on the unborn baby.

Women who have mild cases of ITP usually can go through pregnancy without treatment. Pregnant women who have very low platelet counts or a lot of bleeding are more likely to have heavy bleeding during delivery or afterward. To prevent heavy bleeding, these women usually are treated.



Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.