Neutropenia (Low Neutrophil Count)

We Primary Care - Best Primary Care Knowledge Site

Overview

Neutropenia is a blood condition characterized by a lack of neutrophils, which are white blood cells that fight infection. There is a scarcity of these special cells in the blood. Absolute neutrophil counts low i.e. less than 1500/μL is considered as neutropenia. Neutrophils’ normal range is 2,500 and 7,000 cells.

If your body does not have enough neutrophils, it will not be able to fight germs. Neutropenia raises the chances of getting a variety of ailments.

There are different types of neutropenia.

Severe congenital neutropenia is referred to as “Kostmann syndrome.” This results in very low neutrophil counts or even a total absence of neutrophils in rare situations. As a result, newborns and little children are more susceptible to dangerous diseases.

Cyclic neutropenia is an anemia-causing congenital condition in which neutrophil counts fluctuate on a 21-day cycle. The neutrophil count returns to normal for the length of the cycle after a short period of neutropenia. After that, this cycle begins all over again.

In autoimmune neutropenia, the body produces antibodies that assault and kill the neutrophils. Neutrophils are attacked by these antibodies, resulting in neutropenia. It is most common in newborns and young children, with a diagnostic age of 7 to 9 months on average. Another type of neutropenia is idiopathic neutropenia that may strike anybody at any age.

Neutropenia symptoms vary in severity from person to person. The following are typical indications and symptoms:

·         Pneumonia

·         Fever

·         Sinusitis

·         Otitis media (ear infection)

·         Gingivitis (gum inflammation that is caused by periodontal bacteria)

·         Omphalitis (navel infection)

·         Skin abscesses

Severe congenital neutropenia may present in a number of different ways. Bacterial infections often exhibit symptoms. Skin infections are possible, as are infections of the digestive and respiratory systems.

Cyclic neutropenia symptoms recur every three weeks. When neutrophil counts decline, the risk of infection rises.

Infections may occur as a result of either autoimmune or idiopathic neutropenia. They are often milder than those associated with congenital abnormalities.

Individuals with neutropenia often need to take additional care to prevent infection. Precautions against neutropenia include the following:

·         Appropriate oral hygiene, which includes frequent hand washing, as well as proper dental care, which includes brushing and flossing the teeth on a regular basis, are critical.

·         Keeping a safe distance from those who are ill is critical.

·         As soon as cuts and scratches develop, they should be cleaned and wrapped.

·         Avoiding unpasteurized dairy products and increased intake of meat, and fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and honey are all excellent strategies to maintain a healthy diet.

Causes

Neutropenia may be caused by a number of factors, including neutrophil destruction, decreased generation, or abnormal storage. Inadequate intake of key nutrients may also contribute to neutropenia.

The following factors lead to decreased neutrophil production:

·         Being born with a problem with the formation of bone marrow

·         Leukemia and disorders that affect the bone marrow or result in bone marrow failure

Cancer and cancer therapy: Chemotherapy is a common cause of neutropenia in cancer patients. Additionally, chemotherapy may cause harm to neutrophils and other normal cells in addition to cancer cells.

Medicines: Certain medicines may lead to low count of neutrophils. For instance, thyroid hormone treatment drugs that are used to treat hyperactive thyroid cause neutropenia. Antibiotics, Antiviral drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs also lead to low neutrophil count. Similarly, numerous antipsychotic medications are also linked with neutropenia.

Bone marrow diseases: Bone marrow disorders like myelofibrosis, aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome result in low neutrophil count.

Infections: Certain infectious conditions that also lead to a reduction in the neutrophil levels include:

·         Hepatitis

·         Chickenpox

·         Measles

·         Sepsis

·         Salmonella infection 

Autoimmune disease: Some of the autoimmune diseases that result in neutropenia are:

·         Rheumatoid arthritis

·         Lupus

·         Granulomatosis

When to see a doctor

When a person has neutropenia, he or she is more prone to infection. When neutropenia is severe, even common oral and digestive germs may cause substantial illness, including bacterial infections.

Neutropenia does not exhibit any apparent symptoms, and as a consequence, it is unlikely to prompt you to contact your doctor on your own. It is most often detected through routine blood testing.

Consult your physician about the relevance of your test results. The existence of neutropenia, in conjunction with the results of other tests, may provide light on the underlying cause of your sickness.

If you have been diagnosed with neutropenia, call your doctor immediately. In case of having any infection-related symptoms, which may include the following, you need to seek medical attention:

·         Fever

·         Feeling chilly

·         Coughing

·         Sore throat

·         Shortness of breath

·         Changes in urination frequency

·         Stiff neck

·         Diarrhea

·         Vomiting

·         Redness or edema

·         Vaginal discharge