Shawn Gunnoe via Crowdrise
August 10, 2011
ITP - Immune thrombocytopenia, also known as immune or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, is a rare bleeding disorder characterized by a low amount of platelets in the blood. Platelets are needed for clotting of the blood. In patients with ITP, a person's own immune system creates antibodies that mark healthy platelets as "foreign substances" and then mistakenly attack and destroy them. As an autoimmune disease that results in the destruction of platelets, patients with ITP have a tendency to bleed or bruise.
Immune refers to the immune system's involvement in this disorder. Antibodies, part of the body's immunologic defense against infection, attach to blood platelets, cells that help stop bleeding, and cause their destruction. Thrombocytopenia refers to decrease in blood platelets. Purpura refers to the purplish-looking areas of the skin and mucous membranes (such as the lining of the mouth) where bleeding has occurred as a result of decreased platelet.
While some cases of ITP are caused by drugs and others are associated with infection, pregnancy, or immune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, about half of all cases are classified as "idiopathic," meaning the cause is unknown.