Chronic Thrombocytopenia - Condition and Symptoms
“Chronic” means lasting for a long period of time. Thrombocytopenia means a low platelet count. Therefore Chronic Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which a person suffers a low platelet count over a long period of time.
Platelets are short-lived and the body is always producing new platelets in the bone marrow. Normally, there are 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. A platelet count of less than 150,000 is defined as Thrombocytopenia. Platelets (thrombocytes) are colorless blood cells that play an important role in blood clotting. Therefore the blood of a person with a low platelet count will not clot effectively and the person is at risk of severe bleeding. Most cases of Thrombocytopenia are mild or moderate, but some cases are severe and can cause internal bleeding, especially if the count falls below 10,000. Severe Thrombocytopenia can cause bleeding in the brain or intestines, which can be fatal.
Thrombocytopenia has many possible causes. In some individuals the bone marrow stops producing platelets. Leukemia, HIV/AIDS infection, toxic chemicals, and excessive consumption of alcohol are other causes of low platelet production. Pregnancy can also cause the body to use up more platelets, leading to a lower blood platelet count.
Some diseases kill platelets. These include autoimmune diseases (such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), bacterial infections of the blood, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (which causes the blood to make many clots, all of which use up platelets), hemolytic uremic syndrome, aplastic anemia, cancer, genetic abnormalities, lupus, and some medications.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy routinely destroy cells that create platelets in the bone marrow. An enlarged spleen can sometimes trap platelets, effectively taking them out of circulation and lowering the blood’s platelet count.
In order to diagnose your condition, your doctor will examine personal and family medical history, and will then look for bone pain, HIV risk factors, and exposure to toxins or radiation, among other indicators. Your doctor will also give you a thorough physical exam, during which he/she will feel your abdomen to see if your spleen is enlarged, and will probably order blood work and perhaps a bone marrow scan. If your doctor determines you have Thrombocytopenia, he/she will then diagnose the cause of this condition, using clues gleaned from your exam, medical history, and lab work. Additional tests and procedures may be required, depending on the symptoms you display.
Symptoms of Thrombocytopenia include abnormal bleeding (from cuts, dental work, nose bleeds, etc.), easy bruising, a rash of tiny reddish or purplish spots on your skin, and blood in your urine or stool.
Treatment is based on the cause of the Thrombocytopenia. If you have a disease that is causing Thrombocytopenia as a symptom, then your treatment will focus on that disease. Transfusions, medications, and sometimes surgery are recommended for Chronic Thrombocytopenia.
Thrombocytopenia usually improves when the underlying cause is treated. Patients are usually advised to avoid activities that could cause injury (resulting in a bleeding episode), and to avoid alcohol and over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, which can thin the blood.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Chronic Thrombocytopenia Diagnosis
The Social Security Administration (SSA) discusses disorders of the blood and circulatory system under Section 7.00 Hematological Disorders, and defines “chronic” as lasting at least three months. You must have been examined at least twice in that three-month period. Chronic Thrombocytopenia, regardless of the cause, is considered under Section 7.06. To meet the requirements of this listing, you must have a platelet count that is repeatedly below 40,000 AND have at least one of the following symptoms: at least one spontaneous hemorrhage which required transfusion within five months prior to filing for disability benefits OR you must have had intracranial bleeding within twelve months prior to filing for disability benefits.
Your Chronic Thrombocytopenia Disability Case
If you are disabled because of Chronic Thrombocytopenia that is so severe it prevents you from working, you may well be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. Working closely with medical professionals and a qualified Social Security Disability attorney or advocate to collect and present the appropriate documentation to support your disability claim in front of the Disability Determination Services (DDS) can help ensure that your Chronic Thrombocytopenia disability case will have the highest possible chance of success.