How do Platelets Stop Bleeding

Platelets are our bodies way to create a “natural band aid” to clot and seal our wounds when bleeding.  They are produced in the bone marrow, along with the red and white blood cells.  The actual platelet structure is not a cell, but is actually fragments of cells circulating in the bloodstream.  The platelet is able to survive up to 9 days in human’s blood, with its primary purpose of forming blood clots when needed. 

 The platelet is very  light and pushed to the exterior of the bloodstream, rolling along the vessels wall. When a blood vessel is broken it sends out a signal to the platelets to come over and start plugging the hole.  When the platelet gets this signal, they begin travelling to the  bleeding area transforming their size and shape to forming a plug

The platelet is able to clot blood by having proteins on its outer layer. This allows the platelet to stick to the broken blood vessel and to join with other platelets.  The proteins also will change the shape from its smooth normal plate like appearance to having long protruding extensions from it.  It is with these filaments that stick to the blood vessel and other platelets that begin to close the gap and stop the bleeding.

For the normal adult, their platelet count should range from 150,000 to 450,000 per micro liter of blood.  If you have more too many platelets, the medical term is thrombocytosis.  With too many platelets.  you can get blood clots in your arms and legs when they are not needed.  If these are untreated you can experience a stroke or heart attack resulting in severe injury or even death. 

When your body is not producing enough platelets, medically known as thrombocytopenia, you may experience nose and gums bleeding quite frequently.  Your body will also bruise easily.  Medications, too much alcohol, leukemia, lymphoma, kidney infection or an inherited condition may be a few of the reasons, your body is not producing the number of platelets it needs to produce.

A complete blood count is the blood test given to determine where your platelet count is.  It usually done at during an annual physical examination.  The scary thing  about having too less or too many platelets is you may be feeling fine, with no inclination something maybe wrong.    Depending on the level of your platelets and your family history, may determine how closely your doctor will want to monitor your situation.