Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Blood vessel

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP, is a blood problem. It happens when your immune system does not work as it should and destroys platelets in your blood.

Platelets are a kind of cell in your blood. They have a sticky surface that helps them form clots to stop bleeding.

Your blood can't clot if you don't have enough platelets. This causes abnormal bleeding. Bleeding can get worse over time, or it can come on fast.

To treat ITP, you may need to take medicines to help stop the destruction of platelets. You may need platelets added to your blood. Or you may need surgery to remove your spleen. Your spleen's job is to remove platelets from your body. So taking out the spleen helps increase your platelet count.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Before you start any new over-the-counter or prescribed medicine, tell your doctor if:
    • You have had a bad reaction to any medicines in the past.
    • You take other medicines, such as over-the-counter medicines or natural health products, or you have other health problems.
    • You are or could be pregnant.
  • Do not take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medicines (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) without first talking to your doctor. Ask your doctor if it is okay to use acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • "Think safety" and protect yourself from injury. Do not lift anything heavy.
  • Do not donate blood.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have any abnormal bleeding, such as:
    • Nosebleeds.
    • Vaginal bleeding that is different (heavier, more frequent, at a different time of the month) than what you are used to.
    • Bloody or black stools, or rectal bleeding.
    • Bloody or pink urine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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