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Why Does The Platelet Count Decrease in Dengue & How Can the Platelet Count be Increased in Dengue Fever?

Blood platelets are a vital component in human body. Also known as Thrombocytes, it plays a crucial role in the process of Hemostasis that stops bleeding when a blood vessel ruptures. Platelets grow naturally. In 1 µL of blood in human body, the normal platelet count is 1,50,000 to 4,50,000. Sometimes if the platelet count is slightly low, that does not imply a disease. However, when its count is below 50,000 per micro litre, it signifies the occurrence of thrombocytopenia. If the platelet count is less while the patient is suffering from dengue, it can be dangerous.

Why Does Platelet Count Decrease In Dengue?

Why Does Platelet Count Decrease In Dengue?

A person suffering from dengue often experiences a drop in the platelet count. The reason for which the platelet count decrease are as follows:

  • Bone Marrow Suppression. Blood cells are manufactured in bone marrow. The suppression of bone marrow results in the dearth of blood cells and low platelet count eventually. Other resultant outcomes of Bone Marrow Suppression include continuous bleeding.
  • According to some studies, dengue virus can even stick to platelets despite the presence of antibody thus causing a decrease in the platelet count.
  • Dengue virus affects the vascular endothelial cells with the infection. The infected cells destroy the platelets thereby lowering the platelet count rapidly. This constitutes a major reason behind low platelet count in Dengue.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Dengue fever along with low platelet count can cause continuous bleeding and shock leading to even death. The condition is commonly known as hemorrhagic dengue fever. Normally, complications are not noticed on the first two days. They start showing up from the third day. Doctors suggest that even if the fever remits, the patient must be under observation for a couple of days.

Most often than not, dengue fever is self-resolving that accompanies body pain, nausea, headache, pain behind the eye (retro-orbital headache), pain in abdomen, and rashes in body. Sometimes, the fever can be classified under dengue without the above symptoms. Mucosal bleeding, decreasing platelet count, increase in the red blood cells, pain in abdomen followed with continuous vomiting, and severe bleeding.

At times, symptoms are not specific. The patient might have high non-subsiding fever, eye pain, body ache, nausea and severe joint pain. The pain in the eyes and the joint pain indicate dengue. Symptoms normally show up after the first 4 to 5 days of the bite and the fever lasts till seven days. Even after the fever subsides, the body pain, weakness, rashes and joint pains remain for a long time.

How to Diagnose Dengue Fever?

The following tests are done to detect dengue:

  • Antibodies IgG and IgM
  • PCR in order to examine the virus
  • Complete blood count to check the count of platelet and white blood cell.

The requirement of platelet transfusion will be decided by the physician based on the severity of dengue, the age of the patient and his immunity.

How can the Platelet Count be Increased in Dengue Fever?

Intake of Vitamins and minerals properly rebuilds the platelets and maintain that. Although there are supplements for these nutrients, it is always better to absorb them from food. Healthy eating will help to regain the strength faster. The vitamins and minerals required by the body to increase platelet count in dengue fever are:

  • Vitamin B-12. It is known for keeping blood cells strong. Lack of Vitamin D can lead to low platelet count. Animal-foods such as eggs, beef, liver etc. are rich in Vitamin B-12. Dairy products like milk, cheese etc. also have a high content of Vitamin B-12.
  • Folate for increasing Platelet Count. Folate, a type of Vitamin B helps blood cells. It is found in oranges, peanuts, black-eyed peas, kidney beans and is present in other supplements as folic acid. It helps in increasing platelet count.
  • Iron. Iron is responsible for producing blood cells. It increases blood cells in anaemic patients. Pumpkin seeds, beef, lentils, mussels are very rich in iron and thus helps in increasing platelet count.
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps in absorbing iron in the body and enhancing the count of platelet. It also helps in grouping of the platelets and their proper functioning. High sources of Vitamin C are cauliflower, broccoli, mangoes, and pineapple, and tomatoes, green and red bell peppers.

Supplements to Increase Platelet Count

  • Extract from Papaya Leaf to increase Platelet Count. The importance of papaya leaf extract was found in a study in the year 2013. The study says that the extract from papaya leaf increased the platelet counts in animals at an alarming rate. If consumed the recommended dose, it will not have any side effects. Papaya leaf juice can also be consumed to escalate the platelet count. There are pills containing papaya leaf extract that is found in medical stores.
  • Chlorophyll to increase Platelet Count and Reduce Fatigue. Chlorophyll helps in photosynthesis. Patients with Thrombocytopenia have reported being relieved from fatigue after taking supplements of chlorophyll. This also helps in increasing the platelet count.
  • Bovine Colostrum. Colostrum is known to be a popular dietary supplement. It is the primary substance that a newly born cow gets from the mother. It contains some proteins that help in increasing the platelet count as well as enhances the immune system.
  • Melatonin to increase Platelet Count. While produced naturally by the body, it is also found as tablets, liquids and lotions in medical stores. It increases the platelet count and improves the sleep pattern in the patient as well.

Some food increases the platelet count, while some food and beverages like alcohol, cranberry juice, tahini, quinine, etc. can decrease the platelet count and hence must be avoided during dengue fever.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dengue https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/index.html
  2. MedlinePlus. Dengue Fever https://medlineplus.gov/dengue.html
  3. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Nutritional Support in Dengue Fever https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6611721/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 7, 2023

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