Platelets help form clots and prevent bleeding. They do so by sticking to the site of a blood vessel injury, clump together, and seal off the injured blood vessel to stop bleeding. When platelets are low, you are more susceptible to bleeding. You may experience bleeding gums, bruising and nosebleeds which you can see, but there may also be bleeding that you can’t see such as in the urine, bowel, lungs and head which can be a serious problem.
Precautions against bleeding
While your platelets are low, there are some precautions you can take to prevent bleeding:
- Take good care of your skin and lips, as dryness may lead to cracks and bleeding.
- Use only a soft toothbrush. Do not scrub your gums vigorously.
- Avoid blowing or picking your nose.
- Use only an electric razor.
- Wear shoes or slippers at all times when you are out of bed.
- Exercise by walking or riding a stationary bike. Avoid rough activity or exercises that may cause you to injure your head or other parts of your body.
Symptoms & Management
If your platelet count drops below “10” or you have bleeding issues, you will need a transfusion. Your platelet count may be checked as often as every day and you will be watched for signs of bleeding. Please notify your nurse or doctor of the following:
- Bleeding wounds
- Blood in your urine or stool
- Bleeding gums or nose
- Blood in any mucous/sputum that is coughed up
- Small pinpoint red or purple spots under your skin (petechiae)
Until the transplanted stem cells start making enough platelets, you will require platelet transfusions. Platelet transfusions may also be necessary for a period of time after discharge from hospital.
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