What is Thrombocytosis?

What is it?

This disorder is caused by a substance found in the blood called platelets. Thrombocytosis is also known by the name thrombocythemia.  Platelets are made in the human body.

  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis of Thrombocytosis
  • Causes
  • Treatment
  • Conclusion


There are two types of thrombocytosis.  These are called primary and secondary. Primary thrombocytosis causes myeloproliferative disease.  Myeloproliferative can develop and lead to two kinds of leukemia.  There are several causes to this disorder.  These include blood diseases, bone marrow disease, and include infection.   Bone marrow is the porous substance that is inside all bones.  It resembles a sponge.  Have you ever cut a chicken bone?  That is what is inside the bone.  It is not clear what makes the bone marrow make too many platelets. A person who has thrombocytosis may live a perfectly normal life.  They never show or develop any other complications.  Medications that cause thrombocytosis are epinephrine which is used in a pen to counteract severe allergy reactions like bee stings, tretinoin, and vincristine.  Tretinoin comes in a cream or gel.  It is used to treat severe acne.  Vincristine is a medicine commonly used in cancer patients.  Other causes are blood loss, acute bleeding, allergic reactions, cancer, kidney failure or disorder, exercise, heart attack, infections, anemia, removal of the spleen, hemolytic anemia, inflammations, any kind of major surgeries, pancreatitis, and the person experiencing some type of trauma.  Secondary thrombocytosis is most commonly recognized as a benign complaint.  Thrombocytosis is not specifically in just women or men.  Most women with anemia during the years that they are able to have children are more susceptible to developing this illness.  Secondary thrombocytosis is not age specific.  This can happen at any age if the factors are all aligned.  Thrombocytosis is usually an underlying cause of this particular disorder.  In fact, it is usually a common sign that the person has some form of cancer.  Most common is lung cancer, cancer of the intestinal tract, and breast cancer.



Symptoms of thrombocytosis are as follows; headache (usually shows itself as migraines), dizziness, chest pain, weakness, fainting, temporary vision changes, numbness, and tingling of the hands and feet.  Most people don’t show any signs of this disorder.  Other symptoms may include easy bruising, bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, stomach, and intestinal tract.  Irregular blood clotting in thrombocytosis can cause bleeding in the vessels of the abdomen.  There are neuro signs that present themselves.  The signs are headaches due to a brain aneurism.  To fix this, surgery to the brain and blood vessels are re-routed to a healthy vessel.  This helps bleeding issues to stop.  The pain will change in intensity from worse when exposed to heat and lesson with exposure to cold.  It is not unusual for a person to experience low grade fevers.  Secondary Thrombocytosis can develop after partial or complete spleen elimination.  It also does not have any outward presence.  In other words, if you were walking down the street, you could not pick someone out of a crowd and be able to tell that they have secondary thrombocytosis.

Video of Thrombocytosis


Diagnosis of Thrombocytosis

Blood tests performed are to check blood count, check for liver abnormalities, erythrocyte sedimentation rate.  If these tests are undistinguishable then a bone marrow test is performed in order to make a definite diagnosis of primary or secondary thrombocytosis.  In the case of the bone marrow test is positive, the need for a bone marrow transplant could be necessary. The first blood test may show that there is a chance that thrombocytosis will develop.  Large platelets sometimes can be identified by a simple blood smear test. Although there are several blood tests to find thrombocytosis, doesn’t mean that the results are a sure thing.  This disorder is often misdiagnosed.  Women have had unnecessary surgeries related to bleeding problems.  The most common is an unneeded hysterectomy.   A woman, who has very heavy bleeding when menstruating, can easily be diagnosed as endometriosis when it really is caused by thrombocytosis.  There have been cases where a different blood disorder is actually the medical problem but diagnosed as thrombocytosis.  A problem with the spleen could be a factor of evolving this disease.  An ultrasound is a useful tool in this case especially if the spleen cannot be manually felt.  This is done by a doctor touching where the spleen is located.  Unless the spleen is abnormally large the doctor will not be able to feel it.  Therefore an ultrasound can be performed to make sure there is no damage to the spleen.


There are three hundred and forty seven known diseases that may lead to thrombocytosis.  Von Willebrand disease is a medical problem that causes thrombocytosis.  Here is a list of just a few of the other health issues that can change this to evolve.  Infectious diseases impact thrombocytosis.  TB (tuberculosis) can also lead to this illness.  A high count of platelets can be caused from massive blood loss, recovery from alcohol abuse, and your body not storing enough B12.  Acute non lymphoblastic leukemia Medications that cause thrombocytosis is epinephrine which is used in a pen to counteract severe allergy reactions like bee stings, tretinoin, and vincristine.  Tretinoin comes in a cream or gel.  It is used to treat severe acne.  Vincristine is a medicine commonly used in cancer patients.  Other causes are blood loss, acute bleeding, allergic reactions, cancer, kidney failure or disorder, exercise, heart attack, infections, anemia, removal of the spleen, hemolytic anemia, inflammations, any kind of major surgeries, pancreatitis, and the person experiencing some type of trauma.  Taking out the spleen has the possibility of causing thrombocytosis.  This will last for life. Primary thrombocytosis is caused by myeloproliferative disease.  Secondary thrombocytosis is triggered by hemorrhage, inflammation, removal of the spleen, absence of normal spleen function, and iron deficiency.    Gangrene is also known to be a sign of thrombocytosis. Gangrene is primarily a concern with patients that are diabetic.  This happens either from lack of circulation or an untreated sore that gets infected.  Diabetics develop neuropathy.  This is when a lack of feeling occurs in feet and hands.  A diabetic experiences pain and numbness in these body areas, but is unable to feel a sore or cut on their body area.  Sometimes there appears to be no known reason for thrombocytosis to have established. Taking too much medication can be the source of developing thrombocytopenia.  Other causes of thrombocytosis are Kawasaki disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, nephrotic syndrome, nephritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, sarcomas, osteosarcoma, sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, urinary infection, and septic arthritis.  It has been noted that cases of high potassium levels have been found in people who have thrombocytosis.  There is a disease called Antiphospholipid that has been linked to thrombocytosis. Antiphospholipid Syndrome is an auto-immune disease.  The largest cause of thrombocytosis is from acquired disorders.  There are a few cases that are hereditary.   An example of this is congenital asplenea.  Age can also be a factor.  People age sixty and older are at a high risk of increasing their chance of getting thrombocytosis.  One of the factors is hereditary.  If anyone in the family has had this disorder then they are at risk.  There are other medical problems that will cause complications of thrombocytosis.  One of these is named Blackfan Diamond Anemia.  This happens when the bone marrow is unable to make the right amount of red blood cells.  Symptoms of Blackfan Diamond Anemia include a low birth weight in a baby, retardation, slow or no growth of sexual maturity, and too fail a complexion in a newborn.  Poisoning by chemical bug killers can show up as a symptom of thrombocytosis.  Other conditions that show signs of being a symptom are inflammation of a tumor in the intestines and other body organs.



A patient that does not have any signs or health issues of thrombocytosis does not need any kind of treatment.  There are home tests that can be done.  One of these is an iron deficiency test.  This is performed by using special strips that measure iron deficiency in urine.  An aspirin regiment is sometimes prescribed to prevent blood clotting incidents or excessive bleeding.  In some instances the administration of aspirin in secondary thrombocytosis is all that is necessary.  Nevertheless in primary thrombocytosis if the platelet count is over one million, the doctor may prescribe a medication called hydroxyurea.  Lifestyle changes are recommended.  The changes include stop smoking, lose weight, maintain blood pressure, and keep diabetes under control.  Another item to consider is staying away from smokers so you are not exposed to second hand smoke.  Be careful buying over the counter medicines.  The only safe over the counter medicine is acetaminophen.  Acetaminophen is generally the safest pain reliever when taking prescription medication.  The other kinds of medicine contain other products that will be detrimental to someone who has thrombocytosis.  Check with your doctor to make sure it is safe to consume.   If you are consuming any kind of blood thinner, consult with a dentist before having any work performed.  These types of medications could cause excessive bleeding during the time that the work on your teeth is done.   There is a product that is available to use for treatment called compression stockings.  Compression stockings help to keep circulation in a person’s legs.  This also reduces swelling.  If there is a certain vitamin deficiency, your doctor may discuss taking certain vitamins to see if this is an adequate treatment.  There are several different types of doctors that specialize in blood diseases and disorders.  Here is a few suggestions; Hematologist, Hematophathologist, Pediatric Hematologist.  Misdiagnosis is always a possibility with any disease or disorder of this kind.  It would be beneficial to find another physician to get another opinion.  This is where specialists are the best to talk to if it is suspected you have thrombocytosis.  The most common place for misdiagnosis is an emergency situation.  Thrombocytosis can easily be overlooked when physicians and nurses are trying to treat the primary problem that lead to a visit to the emergency room in the first place.  One specific case of misdiagnosis would be if the person had a heart attack and he/she is taken to the emergency room.  The last thing they are going to look for is a bleeding disease or disorder.



Since there are a lot of circumstances that can lead to thrombocytosis, it is best to keep your doctor up to date on your medical conditions.  This includes any diseases or bleeding problems.  There are a few things that can better prepare you for your appointments with your doctor and/or specialist.  Here are some tips for being prepared.  Make sure you ask your physician about any diet changes that need to be made before the appointment.  Some tests require that you fast before the blood tests can be done.  Write down all your concerns that need to be addressed by the physician.  Compose a list of any family health events that happened that could have an impact on your own state of wellbeing.   It may be helpful if you take a friend or a member of your family along to your appointment.  Discussions with your doctor can be overwhelming.  Having another set of ears will help you understand everything the doctor discusses with you.  Doctors don’t have very much time these days with their patients.  Use your time wisely by using these simple ideas in order to make the most of your time with him/her.   It is important to remember the time factor.  Make your list of questions from most important to least significant.  This is in case you don’t have enough time to discuss all your concerns.  Once again, health insurance policies don’t always cover the cost of necessary testing.  Either ask the physician about the cost related to these tests, or call your health insurance company.  In some cases you may need pre-approval to have the tests performed.  Then you need to decide of the cost of the tests will be cost efficient for your situation.  If you think of new questions during your discussion with the physician, do not be shy about asking them if time permits.  If there is not enough time, then make a new list of questions for the next visit.


We will be expanding on this important topic in future articles. While I recommend you to register to download an e-book: “Adult Prevention Guide” for better health, a FREE

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The Team Manager Web Diseases



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