Thrombocytopenia is a blood condition that refers to a low platelet count. Platelets are clear cells that are responsible for clotting blood and stopping bleeding, so they’re incredibly important in case you suffer a serious cut or other injury-causing bleeding. When you have a healthy quantity of platelets — which have a short shelf-life and are regularly generated in the born marrow — your blood will do a good job of clotting so you can start the healing process. Normally, your platelet count is 150,000-450,000 per microliter of blood. If you fall below that range, you have thrombocytopenia, which for even the smallest injuries may cause difficulty clotting.
Low platelet counts aren’t always a cause for serious concern. Most cases are mild or of limited concern, but serious cases can result in internal bleeding, and if in the brain or intestines, it can even prove fatal. At the very least, thrombocytopenia isn’t hard to detect, and it typically is caused by other serious conditions, so you’ll know to be on the lookout for it. Autoimmune diseases, leukemia, other cancers, blood disorders like aplastic anemia, HIV/AIDS, and alcohol abuse are all common causes of thrombocytopenia. Even treatment methods like chemotherapy, or simply being pregnant, may cause your platelet count to become reduced.
Where veterans are concerned, thrombocytopenia may be granted a rating of 0, 30, 70, or 100 depending on the severity of the condition, and this rating may be adjusted based on changes in your condition or reevaluated following chemotherapy to see where you stand.
How Low Platelet Counts Affects You
Taken on its own, thrombocytopenia may not sound like a big deal. As long as you don’t get injured, and your platelet count is high enough to prevent internal bleeding, it’s not a big deal, right? No. If anything, it points to other serious problems that need to be addressed, and even if you’re aware of those problems and are already seeking treatment, you don’t want to risk injury, do you? Consider your platelet count like an insurance policy. It may not matter to you when you don’t need it, but when you do need it, you don’t want it to fall short.
If taken seriously, thrombocytopenia is a good reason to avoid certain activities, including exercise and physical labor which may be necessary for your job or private life. It may limit your willingness to perform essential tasks or pursue certain areas of work, or it may put you at serious risk if you do. Also consider that without physical activity, your overall health may decline as a result. In any number of ways, thrombocytopenia can have a seriously negative effect on your life.
Why It Matters for Veterans
Veterans may be reluctant to take on work or perform actions that may result in injury – whether serious or not – due to a concern of uncontrolled bleeding. If you notice that you have thrombocytopenia, it’s likely a sign of an underlying condition, so it’s worth seeking out the source of your low platelet count to determine a service connection and to see if you qualify for VA disability pay, whether for the thrombocytopenia or its underlying condition.
Veterans suffering from thrombocytopenia shouldn’t hesitate to visit their physician, carefully document the progression of their condition, trace its origin, and open a claim with the VA if you believe it warrants a service connection that could grant you a disability rating.
If you’re having trouble proving your case or need help navigating the claims and appeals process with the VA, reach out to VA Disability Group PLLC at 844-VET-LAWS or fill out our online form. We’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve.