ITP 101

What's going on

Have you experienced 1 or more of these?

  • Unexplained bruises
  • Tiny red or purple dots on your skin
  • Bleeding too easily from your gums, nose, or cuts
  • Bleeding that’s hard to stop
  • Blood in your stool or urine
  • A heavier than usual period flow (females) 

Your doctor may help you understand what’s causing this.


So many tests, not enough answers.

ITP is a chronic low blood platelet disorder usually diagnosed by process of elimination. There is no specific ITP test and your doctors need to confirm that something else isn’t causing your low platelet count before they can make a diagnosis.

It can be a lifelong disease and is manageable with treatment.

You may need to meet with different types of doctors before the best treatment is found.

You may be feeling uncertain during this process, but it’s important not to jump to any conclusions while your health care team narrows down your diagnosis. This is all to ensure that you’re getting the right treatment and help you manage your disease.


Meet your health care team

  • Primary care doctor— The first stop on your journey
  • Hematologist— A blood specialist
  • Social worker/therapist— Because the impact of your low blood platelet disorder is not only physical
  • Nursing staff— Nurses and other health professionals will help you navigate your journey

General guidelines to platelet count ranges

aIn patients, treatment is recommended for platelet counts <30,000 mm3  and should be adjusted to maintain counts >50,000 mm3.
bPrimary treatment options for ITP usually include corticosteroids, immunoglobulin therapy, or splenectomy (surgery to remove the spleen).

You and your doctor will discuss your platelet count goals. Everyone’s target count is unique to them. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your platelet count and think about the impact those levels have on how you feel day to day.

ITP and your body

Types of ITP

Acute ITP

This is a type of ITP that might go away on its own. It can last up to 6 months. Potential treatments are steroids and/or infusions such as intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg).

If your platelet count and symptoms are stable, your doctor may choose to watch and wait to see if your ITP goes away. If they’re unstable, it’s time to move on to second-line treatments for chronic ITP.

Chronic ITP

This is ITP that lasts 6 months or longer. Treatments include steroids, platelet growth factors like a thrombopoietin receptor agonist, injections, or chemotherapy. If a specific treatment is working and your platelet count and symptoms are stable, you can maintain that course of therapy. If your counts aren’t stable or if your treatment side effects are too bothersome, your doctor may recommend a different therapy.

If your chronic ITP is severe, your doctor may consider surgery to remove your spleen. In chronic ITP, platelets are removed from the blood and then destroyed or trapped in the spleen. By removing the spleen, more platelets remain in the blood.

Managing your ITP

Finding the right treatment and taking your medicine as prescribed will help you manage your chronic ITP. However, you still may have to deal with symptoms, especially if you try different treatments to find the one that best gets your ITP under control. Make sure you keep open communication with your health team and when in doubt, don’t be shy: Just ask.

Pay attention to how your body responds to treatment because every patient has his or her own response. Tracking your platelet levels and symptoms can be very useful. Your doctor uses this information to develop your treatment regimen. Once you start writing down your platelet counts or tracking them in a smartphone app, patterns may emerge that can help you and your doctor find the best platelet levels for you and help gauge the impact of your treatment. We have designed a platelet tracker that is available at the back of our brochure and can get you started.

Daily ITP: Yes, you can!

Q: Can I still brush my teeth with a toothbrush?

A: Yes, you can!

Brush twice a day using a softer toothbrush. Use interdental brushes to remove plaque and food from between your teeth. They’re softer than dental floss.




Q: Can I move around the house without getting injured?

A: Yes, you can!

There are simple ways you can make your living space more ITP friendly. Cut down on clutter on the floor that might cause you to trip, get a rubber mat for your shower, and avoid rugs that slide around on the floor.



Q: Can I move around outside safely?

A: Yes, you can!

Just be more aware of your surroundings. Don’t “text and walk,” make sure you can see around and above any items you might be carrying, and wear helmets and pads when the activity calls for them.




Q: Can I avoid suffering from constant fatigue?

A: Yes, you can!

Keep your energy level up with small snacks throughout the day! Also make sure to avoid “sleep debt,” in which a few nights of bad sleep can cut down on sleep’s effectiveness later in the week. Try going to sleep a half hour earlier each day to catch up.

ITP Resources


My ITP Life Brochure

Learn even more about how ITP can impact your life. Our Let’s Move Forward brochure also includes our platelet tracker to help you follow your treatment.




My ITP Life Platelet Tracker

This download is just for our platelet tracker to help you follow your treatment.



My ITP Life: Understanding ITP

Important information about ITP in an easy-to-understand format.




My ITP Life: Chronic ITP and Your Child

Learn about chronic ITP and how it can affect your child with this simple resource.




Find more ITP support

There are many resources available to help you learn more and connect with others who are living with ITP.


American Society of Hematology

Furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of certain blood and bone disorders.


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

NHLBI promotes the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases.


Platelet Disorder Support Association

A helpful resource for ITP education, advocacy, research, and support.


National Organization for Rare Disorders

Providing a unified voice for those with rare diseases and their caregivers, seeking to help them so they won’t have to fight that battle alone.


ITP and Me

Providing medical support for ITP patients and also emotional, lifestyle, and daily ITP guidance.


Well Spouse® Association

Offering peer support and education for individuals caring for a chronically ill and/or disabled spouse/partner.


The organizations and websites listed on this page are maintained by third parties over whom Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation has no control. As such, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation makes no representation as to the accuracy or any other aspect of the information supplied by these organizations or contained in these websites.

ITP Dictionary

Autoimmune condition

A condition in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue


While usually used to treat cancer, chemotherapy may be effective for some cITP patients since it can help treat abnormalities with your immune system

Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP)

Thrombocytopenia that is a result of destruction of platelets by the immune system


A drug that lowers the activity of the immune system


Medicine given through a needle or tube inserted into a vein


A physician who treats cancer. He or she may become involved in your treatment while your doctor narrows down your diagnosis


Small red or purple spots caused by bleeding into the skin


A blood cell fragment that helps wounds heal by forming blood clots


An organ that helps your body fight infection and keep fluids in balance


Steroids known as corticosteroids are drugs that lower stresses and inflammation caused by disease or illness


A blood disorder in which your blood doesn’t clot the way it should because the number of blood cell fragments called platelets is too low

Thrombopoietin receptor agonist

An ITP treatment that stimulates platelet production. It is usually used after initial treatments have been unsuccessful