ITP – The Basics



Immune thrombocytopenic (ITP) is a rare autoimmune disorder. The person’s blood does not clot properly because the blood-clotting platelets are destroyed by antibodies.  ITP, like most auto immune disorders are more commonly found in women, though this is not exclusive.

Symptoms include bruising easily, a rash of small red dots, bleeding from the gums or any area of the body, frequent nosebleeds and abnormal menstruation.The great thing about ITP is that it is very rarely life threatening – The crap part is that having it still sucks!!

Classifying ITP into standard Terms

Primary ITP

Primary ITP is an autoimmune disorder characterised by isolated thrombocytopenia in the absence of other causes or disorders that may be associated with thrombocytopenia.  The diagnosis of primary ITP still remains on of exclusion; no robust clinical or laboratory parameters are currently available to establish its diagnosis with accuracy.

Secondary ITP

All forms of Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia except Primary ITP. The acronym ITP should be followed by the name of the associated disease.  For example Secondary ITP (lupus-associated) or Secondary ITP (HIV-associated)


Within Three months of your original diagnosis


Between three to twelve months from diagnosis.  Includes patients not reaching spontaneous remission of not maintaining complete response off therapy.


Lasting more than twelve months.


Presence of bleeding symptoms at presentation sufficient to mandate treatment, or occurrence of new bleeding  symptoms requiring additional therapeutic intervention with a different platelet-enhancing agent or an increased dose.


Common Questions

The acronym I.T.P stands for Immune Thrombocytopenia.  The old acronym for ITP was Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia, but it was changed in 2007 in an effort to standardise the terminology around the world.  ITP was kept as the acronym to make it easier to access old information about the disorder.

ITP affects approximately 1 in every 10 000 people.

The normal number of platelets varies from person to person, but is commonly seen somewhere between 150 and 400 x 109 per litre. Normal Platelet numbers vary between men and woman, and are different depending on your age.  A platelet count can be influenced by pregnancy, chemotherapy, infection and other lifestyle and health factors.

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