September is ITP Awareness Month, and September 29th is Sport Purple for Platelets Day. It is a day devoted to raising awareness and understanding of this disorder, and there are plenty of things that you can do to get involved and help to make a difference.
ITP stands for Immune (or Idiopathic) Thrombocytopenia Purpura. It is a rare autoimmune disorder in which the immune system creates antibodies that attack and kill healthy platelets. Platelets are essential parts of the blood clotting process. Individuals with ITP can have a significantly lower number of platelets, which can then greatly increase their risk of bleeding.
There are four main types of ITP:
- Primary ITP (which has no known cause)
- Secondary ITP (the onset is triggered by an illness or other autoimmune issue)
- Acute ITP (temporary, and most common in kids)
- Chronic ITP (ITP lasting longer than 6 months).
In some cases, individuals with ITP need to be evaluated and/or treated by a hematologist, who can diagnose the specific type of ITP and develop an appropriate treatment plan, which may include such treatments as antibiotics, corticosteroids, platelet growth factors, and various complementary therapies (energy therapy, herbal remedies, dietary changes, vitamins and supplements, and more). However, not all patients need such treatment. Those who don’t are still at risk for bleeding, including internal bleeding. This means that it's important to take extra precautions to avoid injuries. This includes avoiding any high-risk activities.
Why ITP Patients Need a Medical ID
If you or a loved one are living with ITP, wearing a medical alert ID is extremely important. It is imperative that first responders know about your ITP when administering treatment. If you are unconscious, or otherwise unable to advocate for yourself, your condition may not be evident. For instance, in the event of trauma, you may appear unhurt, but you may be experiencing internal bleeding that is made worse by ITP. Knowing about your ITP will allow first responders to take appropriate actions to better treat you.
How You Can Get Involved and Raise Awareness
There are plenty of ways to get involved and raise awareness for ITP. Wear purple on "Sport Purple for Platelets Day" on September 29. You could simply wear a purple shirt, or you could really go all out and go purple from head to toe!
Host a fundraising event. You can find valuable information on the PDSA website, including free educational materials, services, and support. PDSA, or Platelet Disorder Support Association, is a non-profit organization that is devoted to enhancing the lives of individuals living with ITP (and other platelet disorders) through education, advocacy, support, and research. Hosting an event allows you to raise awareness by providing the public with information, and allows you to raise money for the cause. You can provide support for individuals with ITP and create a space to relieve anxiety. There are all kinds of fundraisers that you can host, such as dances, golf tournaments, and walk/runs. If you need help organizing a fundraiser PDSA can help.