- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a bleeding condition in which the blood doesn't clot as it should. This is due to a low number of blood cell fragments called platelets.
Platelets stick together (clot) to seal small cuts or breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding.
There are two types of ITP. Acute ITP is a short-term illness that mainly affects children and often occurs after a viral infection. Most children get well quickly without any treatment. Adults who have ITP most often have chronic (long-lasting) ITP. Symptoms can vary a great deal, and some adults who have mild ITP don't need treatment.
In most cases, an autoimmune response is believed to cause ITP. Normally your immune system helps your body fight off infections and diseases. But if you have ITP, your immune system attacks and destroys its own platelets. The reason why this happens isn't known. ITP can't be passed from one person to another.
ITP can affect children and adults of all ages. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely than men to get chronic ITP.
People who have ITP may have signs of bleeding, such as bruises (purpura) that appear for no reason or tiny red dots (petechiae) that are visible on the skin.
Bleeding in ITP also occurs in the form of nosebleeds, bleeding gums, menstrual bleeding that's heavier than usual, or other bleeding that's hard to stop. Bleeding in the brain as a result of ITP is very rare, but it can be life threatening when it occurs.
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a rare blood disorder. In TTP, blood clots form in small blood vessels throughout the body. The clots can limit or block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body's organs, such as the brain, kidneys, and heart. As a result, serious health problems can develop.
The increased clotting that occurs in TTP also uses up platelets in the blood. Platelets are blood cell fragments that help form blood clots. These cell fragments stick together to seal small cuts and breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding.
With fewer platelets available in the blood, bleeding problems can occur. People who have TTP may bleed inside their bodies, underneath the skin, or from the surface of the skin. When cut or injured, they also may bleed longer than normal.
"Thrombotic" refers to the blood clots that form. "Thrombocytopenic" means the blood has a lower than normal number of platelets. "Purpura" refers to purple bruises caused by bleeding under the skin.
Bleeding under the skin also can cause tiny red or purple dots on the skin. These pinpoint-sized dots are called petechiae. Petechiae may look like a rash.
Bleeding into the skin or mucus membranes
Pale skin color or yellowish skin color
Shortness of breath
Tachycardia (over 100 beats per minute)