What Is a Normal Platelet Count?

Testing for platelet disorders

In general, a normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter (mcL) of blood. Though this range is considered the norm for everyone, research indicates that this may be slightly different for men and women.

Platelet counts out of the normal range can be a sign of health condition or a side effect of a medication you're on. Having a normal platelet count is important: Your bone marrow produces these cells so your body can form clots to prevent bleeding and seal blood vessels if they are damaged.

This article covers normal platelet count ranges, as well as abnormal ones. You will also learn what causes platelets to go out of the normal range, as well as how these conditions can be treated.

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Normal Platelet Counts

A platelet count between 150,000 to 450,000/mcL of blood is considered normal. However, this might vary a bit depending on certain factors.

Research has shown that platelet counts are related to genetics, ethnicity, and age.

For example, studies have found that the range of normal platelet counts between men and women is a little different after age 15:

  • For women, a normal platelet count is between 157,000 and 371,000/mcL of blood
  • For men, a normal platelet count is between 135,000 and 317,000/mcL of blood

Platelet counts are also generally stay stable until after age 60, when they start to decrease.

Healthcare providers do not necessarily use different normal platelet ranges based on such factors, but they may be taken into some consideration.

Higher-Than-Normal Platelet Count

A platelet count over 450,000/mcL is called thrombocytosis.

A higher-than-normal platelet count can cause blood clots to form and lead to a condition called acquired von Willebrand disease.

In this disease, the platelets fail to interact properly with the blood vessel wall at sites of injury. The failure to seal the site of injury leads to bleeding.

There are two types of thrombocytosis:

  • In primary thrombocytosis, there is a natural abnormality (such as a genetic mutation) in the bone marrow cells that produce platelets. That means too many platelets are being made all the time.
  • In secondary thrombocytosis, there is no problem with the cells producing platelets. They are making too many platelets as a normal response to signals that they are getting from another process going on in the body (such as inflammation).

Some possible causes of high platelets include:

The symptoms of thrombocytosis may include abnormal bruising or bleeding and stroke-like symptoms. However, many people who have a high platelet count do not have symptoms at all.

Lower-Than-Normal Platelet Count

A platelet level of less than 150,000/mcL is considered low. This is called thrombocytopenia.

When a blood vessel becomes damaged, platelets are activated to stick together and form a clot to seal the blood vessel wall to stop or prevent bleeding.

When your platelet level is below normal, you are risk for more-than-typical blood loss with something as simple as a cut from shaving or injury from a sport. In severe cases, internal and external bleeding can be significant.

Low platelets can be caused by:

  • Bone marrow dysfunction: If the bone marrow is not functioning, it may not be making enough platelets.
  • Enlarged spleen: Platelets can sit in an enlarged spleen instead of being circulated out into the blood vessels.
  • Liver disease: Diseases that affect the liver can lead to platelet dysfunction and spleen enlargement.
  • Immune system destruction: Sometimes, the immune system mistakes platelets as foreign and destroys them
  • Medications: Being on chemotherapy or taking antibiotics, seizure medication, and blood thinners can affect platelet levels.

Symptoms of thrombocytopenia may include:

Is Your Platelet Count Normal?

You can find out if your platelet count is normal by having a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC). A healthcare provider may order this test as part of a routine physical exam or if they are exploring the possibility of a health condition.

Blood will be drawn and then sent to a lab, where it will go into a machine that counts all the different types of cells in your blood.

 Range  Platelet Count
High More than 450,000/mcL
Normal 150,000 to 450,000/mcL
Low Less than 150,000/mcL

Results will reveal not only the number of each you have, but the size of the cells as well.

The size of platelets is referred to as the mean platelet volume (MPV). Like your platelet count, this information can be useful in helping identify a health concern.

If the MPV is higher than normal, it means the platelets are larger than normal. An elevated MPV can be caused by:

A low MPV means the platelets are smaller than normal. A decreased MPV can be caused by:

Summary

Platelets are cells made by the bone marrow that help clot your blood. A normal platelet count is necessary for the body to repair itself and prevent bleeding if blood vessels get damaged.

If your body is making too many platelets or too few platelets, it can lead to health problems. Having abnormally high platelet counts or low platelet counts can also be a sign of diseases and conditions.

You can find out if your platelet count is normal by having a blood test. Your provider can let you know what your results mean and if you need treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes a high platelet count?

    A high platelet count can be caused by abnormal stem cells in the bone marrow that are making too many platelets. Why this occurs is unknown. Other cases may be due to certain health conditions, including iron deficiency anemia and cancer.

  • What is a dangerously low platelet count?

    A person's risk of bleeding starts to go up when their platelet count is less than normal. However, it's when a person's platelet count is less than 20,000 that they are most at risk for life-threatening bleeding.

  • How do normal platelet counts differ between men and women?

    After the age of about 15, women tend to have higher platelet counts than men. This might be because there are hormonal differences between the sexes.

  • Can COVID-19 affect your platelet count?

    Some patients with COVID-19 have abnormal platelet counts. Some studies have found that people with mild COVID may have a slightly elevated platelet count, and people with severe illness can have very low platelet counts.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Julie is an Adult Nurse Practitioner with oncology certification and a healthcare freelance writer with an interest in educating patients and the healthcare community.