Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) | Overview

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What is ITP?

ITP stands for idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. "Idiopathic" means that the cause of the condition is unknown. "Thrombocytopenic" means the blood doesn't have enough platelets (platelets are also called thrombocytes). "Purpura" means a person has excessive bruising. ITP is also sometimes called "immune thrombocytopenic purpura."

In people who have ITP, all of the blood cells are normal except for the platelets. Platelets are the tiny cells that form blood clots and seal minor cuts and wounds. A person who has too few platelets bruises very easily and can bleed for a long time after being injured. When the platelet count is very low, a person who has ITP might have nosebleeds that are hard to stop, or they might have bleeding in the intestines, or even bleeding in the brain with minor trauma.

How does ITP affect children?

ITP in children is usually mild and runs it course without the need for treatment. About 80% of children recover completely from ITP within about 6 months.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 09/00

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