A platelet count is a simple blood test that measures the number of platelets in your blood. Platelets are small cell fragments that are involved in blood clotting, and a platelet count may be ordered for a variety of reasons, including:
To diagnose bleeding disorders: Low platelet counts can cause bleeding disorders, such as thrombocytopenia, which can result in excessive bleeding or bruising.
To monitor treatment for cancer: Some cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can lower platelet counts, and monitoring platelet counts can help guide treatment and manage potential side effects.
To diagnose infections: Certain infections, such as dengue fever or Zika virus, can cause low platelet counts.
To assess risk of bleeding during surgery: A platelet count may be ordered prior to surgery to assess the risk of bleeding complications during the procedure.
To monitor certain medical conditions: Platelet counts may be ordered to monitor certain medical conditions, such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), which is an autoimmune disorder that can cause low platelet counts.
Overall, a platelet count is a simple and useful test that can provide important information about your overall health, particularly as it relates to bleeding and clotting disorders. If you have concerns about your risk of bleeding or if you have a medical condition that may affect platelet counts, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine if testing is appropriate for you.