Types of Immune Thrombocytopenia

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The two types of ITP are acute (temporary or short-term) and chronic (long-lasting).

Acute ITP generally lasts less than 6 months. It mainly occurs in children—both boys and girls—and is the most common type of ITP. Acute ITP often occurs after a viral infection.

Chronic ITP lasts 6 months or longer and mostly affects adults. However, some teenagers and children do get this type of ITP. Chronic ITP affects women two to three times more often than men.

Treatment depends on the severity of bleeding and the platelet count. In mild cases, treatment may not be needed.


For most children and adults, ITP isn’t a serious or life-threatening condition.

Acute ITP in children often goes away on its own within a few weeks or months and doesn’t return. In 80 percent of children who have ITP, the platelet count returns to normal within 6 to 12 months. Treatment may not be needed.

For a small number of children, ITP doesn’t go away on its own and may require further medical or surgical treatment.

Chronic ITP varies from person to person and can last for many years. Even people who have severe forms of chronic ITP can live for decades. Most people who have chronic ITP can stop treatment at some point and maintain a safe platelet count.

Other Names for Immune Thrombocytopenia

  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
  • Immune thrombocytopenic purpura
  • Autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura

What Causes Immune Thrombocytopenia?

In most cases, an autoimmune response is thought to cause immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).

Normally, your immune system helps your body fight off infections and diseases. In ITP, however, your immune system attacks and destroys your body’s platelets by mistake. Why this happens isn’t known.

In some people, ITP may be linked to viral or bacterial infections, such as HIV, hepatitis C, or H. pylori.

Children who have acute ITP often have had recent viral infections. These infections may “trigger” or set off the immune reaction that leads to ITP.

Who Is at Risk for Immune Thrombocytopenia?

Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a fairly common blood disorder. Both children and adults can develop ITP.

Children usually have the acute type of ITP. Acute ITP often develops after a viral infection.

Adults tend to have the chronic type of ITP. Women are two to three times more likely than men to develop chronic ITP.

The number of cases of ITP is rising because routine blood tests that can detect a low platelet count are being done more often.

ITP can’t be passed from one person to another.