The Hematology Society of Taiwan and a group of people with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) yesterday held a walking event in Taipei to raise public awareness about the disorder characterized by low blood platelet counts.
Citing experiences of people with the condition, the society said that a woman experienced abnormally heavy bleeding during menstruation and had to frequently go the restroom at her workplace, which her supervisor mistook as slacking off.
Some women in a similar situation even wear adult diapers, it said.
Photo courtesy of the ITP Patient Association
People with the condition get bruised easily even without having been hurt, which has led to other people mistaking them for victims of domestic violence, the society said.
Society chairman Chou Wen-chien (周文堅), a physician at National Taiwan University Hospital’s Hematology and Oncology Division, said that ITP is an autoimmune bleeding disorder that can be characterized by having many red or purple bruise-like rashes (purpura) on the skin, and a low blood platelets count.
“ITP can suddenly burst into a person’s life,” he said, adding that people can develop the condition at any age, but it is more common among young women.
Many people become perplexed when they are diagnosed with the disease, he said.
A normal blood platelet count is about 150,000 to 400,000 per microliter, and ITP can be defined as having a level below that range, but serious bleeding, such as fatal intracranial hemorrhage, can occur if platelet count drops below 20,000 per microliter, Chou added.
Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital Hematology and Oncology Division physician Chiou Tzeon-jye (邱宗傑) said that when blood platelet count drops below 20,000 per microliter, spontaneous bleeding might occur, such as having a nosebleed after sneezing or experiencing intracranial hemorrhage after straining to have a bowel movement.
Medicines covered by the National Health Insurance System can be used for ITP treatment, but there are certain conditions for prescribing them, Chiou said, adding that thrombopoietin receptor agonists have also been used in the past few years.
Chiou said that people should seek medical attention as soon as possible if they have red or purple bruises on their skin, or frequently experience nosebleeds, bleeding gums, abnormal menstrual bleeding or gastrointestinal bleeding.
ITP Patient Association chairperson Chen Chia-mei (陳佳美) said that people with the disorder also often experience social or work-related problems due to their condition, so they organized the walking event encourage patients to be brave and join in outdoor events with other people.
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