What are the causes and treatment options for small platelet size?

Symptom Database

Platelets are small, disc-shaped cells in the blood that play a crucial role in clotting and preventing excessive bleeding. The size of platelets can vary among individuals, and abnormalities in platelet size can indicate underlying health conditions. In this article, we will explore the causes and treatment options for small platelet size, also known as thrombocytopenia or platelet disorders.

Understanding Small Platelet Size

Small platelets, or platelet size variation, refer to platelets that are smaller than the average size. This abnormality can be detected through a blood test that measures the mean platelet volume (MPV). A low MPV indicates small platelets.

Platelet disorders, including thrombocytopenia, can be caused by various factors. Let’s delve into some of the common causes of small platelet size:

1. Genetic Factors

Some individuals may inherit genetic mutations that affect platelet production or size. These genetic abnormalities can lead to small platelets and increase the risk of bleeding disorders.

2. Bone Marrow Disorders

Conditions that affect the bone marrow, such as aplastic anemia or myelodysplastic syndrome, can disrupt the normal production of platelets. This disruption can result in small platelet size and a low platelet count.

3. Medications and Treatments

Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy, can affect the bone marrow’s ability to produce platelets. Additionally, some medications may directly impact platelet size and function, leading to small platelets.

4. Infections and Viral Illnesses

Infections, particularly viral illnesses like HIV or hepatitis C, can cause platelet abnormalities, including small platelet size. These infections can directly affect the bone marrow or trigger an immune response that affects platelet production.

5. Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), can cause the immune system to mistakenly attack and destroy platelets. This immune response can result in small platelet size and a decreased platelet count.

Treatment Options for Small Platelet Size

While small platelet size itself may not always require treatment, addressing the underlying cause is essential. Here are some treatment options that may be considered:

1. Medications

If the small platelet size is due to an underlying condition, medications may be prescribed to manage the condition and improve platelet production. For example, corticosteroids or immunosuppressants may be used to treat autoimmune disorders that affect platelets.

2. Blood Transfusions

In severe cases of thrombocytopenia or platelet disorders, blood transfusions may be necessary to increase platelet count and improve clotting ability. Platelet transfusions can provide a temporary solution while addressing the underlying cause.

3. Splenectomy

In some cases of platelet disorders, the spleen may be responsible for destroying platelets. Surgical removal of the spleen, known as a splenectomy, can help improve platelet count and size.

4. Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can support overall platelet health. This includes maintaining a balanced diet rich in nutrients, regular exercise, and avoiding activities that may increase the risk of bleeding or injury.


Small platelet size, or thrombocytopenia, can be caused by various factors, including genetic abnormalities, bone marrow disorders, medications, infections, and autoimmune disorders. While treatment options exist, addressing the underlying cause is crucial. Medications, blood transfusions, splenectomy, and lifestyle modifications may be recommended based on the individual’s condition. If you suspect you have small platelets or are experiencing symptoms related to platelet disorders, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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