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Many patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET) have no symptoms. Patients often learn they have ET after a routine physical exam and blood test.

When ET signs and symptoms appear, however, they can be serious. See your doctor if you're troubled by any of the following:

  • Burning or throbbing pain in the feet, sometimes worsened by heat or by exercise or when your legs are hanging down for long periods. The skin on your legs and feet may have a patchy reddish color. This condition is called erythromelalgia and is caused by reduced blood flow (microcirculation) to the feet and toes.
  • Headache, dizziness, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, slurred speech and other signs of inadequate blood flow to the brain. You may be having a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) and need immediate emergency medical attention.
  • Abnormal clotting (thrombosis) in an artery and, less often, in a vein.
  • Unexpected or exaggerated bleeding. Abnormal bleeding is uncommon and usually occurs only when platelet counts are very high.
  • An enlarged spleen, which may cause discomfort, a feeling of fullness or a "dragging" feeling on the upper left side of your stomach. Your doctor may detect an enlarged spleen during a physical examination or ultrasound imaging. About half of all ET patients have an enlarged spleen.
  • Constitutional symptoms like fatigue, weakness, itching, sweating and low-grade fevers, which may be present in advanced cases.
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last updated on Thursday, July 05, 2012
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