Reactive Thrombocytosis

What is Reactive Thrombocytosis

Reactive thrombocytosis is when you have too many platelets (thrombocytes) in your blood. Platelets are tiny elements in the blood that stick together and form a clot (thrombus).

Platelets help your body stop bleeding. Conditions that cause inflammation, such as cancer, may trigger your body to make more platelets than normal. This condition may also be called secondary thrombocytosis.

What are the causes?

Many things can cause this condition, including:

  • Having your spleen surgically removed (splenectomy).
  • Injury (trauma).
  • Certain infections.
  • Very bad bleeding.
  • Low red blood cell count from not having enough iron (iron deficiency anemia).
  • Having a disease that destroys your red blood cells (hemolytic anemia).
  • Not having enough vitamin B-12.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis).
  • Cancer, especially lymphoma, breast, stomach, and ovarian cancers.
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Certain medicines.

What are the signs or symptoms?

It can be hard to tell the difference between symptoms of reactive thrombocytosis and symptoms of the underlying condition. If you have symptoms, they may include:

  • Weakness.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness or confusion.
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Tingling or burning in your hands or feet.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition may be diagnosed based on routine blood tests or while you are being evaluated for another condition. You may also need tests to confirm the diagnosis. These may include:

  • Additional blood tests.
  • A procedure to collect a sample of bone marrow (bone marrow aspiration).

How is this treated?

Treatment for this condition depends on the cause. Your platelet count may return to normal after the underlying cause is treated. If your platelet count is very high, you may have to take medicine to prevent blood clots as told by your health care provider.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Work with your health care provider to:
    • Treat the condition causing reactive thrombocytosis.
    • Control any other conditions you may have, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have a headache that you cannot control.
  • You faint.

Get help right away if:

  • You suddenly develop a headache, weakness, or drooping in your face.
  • You suddenly cannot speak or understand speech.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You have trouble breathing.

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