Essential thrombocythemia (Throm-Boe-Sie-THEE-Me-Uh) is a rare condition in which your body makes too many platelets. Platelets are the part of your blood that sticks together to form clots.
This condition can make you feel tired, dizzy, and experience headaches and blurred vision. It also increases the risk of blood clots.
Essential thrombocythemia is more common in people over the age of 60, although it can also occur in younger people. It’s also more common in women.
Essential thrombocythemia is a chronic, incurable disease. If you have a mild form of the disease, you may not need treatment. If you have severe symptoms, you may need medications that lower your platelet counts, blood thinners, or both.
You may not have any identifiable symptoms of essential thrombocythemia. The first indication that you have the disorder may be the development of a blood clot. Clots can develop anywhere in your body, but with essential thrombocythemia, the most common places where they occur in your brain, hands, and feet.
The signs and symptoms will depend on where the clot is forming. They include:
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Temporary changes in vision
Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
Redness, stinging, burning pain in hands and feet
Essential thrombocythemia is a type of chronic myeloproliferative disorder. This means that your bone marrow, the spongy tissue in your bones, is making too much of a certain type of cell. In essential thrombocythemia, the bone marrow makes too many cells that make platelets.
We don’t know what is causing this. Approximately 90% of people with the disease have a genetic mutation that contributes to the disease.
If an underlying disease such as an infection or an iron deficiency causes a high platelet count, it is called secondary thrombocytosis. Compared to essential thrombocythemia, secondary thrombocytosis has a lower risk of blood clots and bleeding.