Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Neutropenia

    People with neutropenia have an unusually low number of cells called neutrophils. Neutrophils are cells in your immune system that attack bacteria and other organisms when they invade your body.

    Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. Your bone marrow creates these cells. They then travel in your bloodstream and move to areas of infection. They release chemicals to kill invading microorganisms.

    Symptoms of Neutropenia

    Neutropenia itself often doesn't cause symptoms. In some cases, people only learn they have neutropenia when they have a blood test for an unrelated reason. But people may have other symptoms from infection or the underlying problem causing the neutropenia.

    Infections can occur as a complication of neutropenia. They occur most often in the mucous membranes, such as the inside of the mouth and the skin.

    These infections can appear as:

    • Ulcers
    • Abscesses (collections of pus)
    • Rashes
    • Wounds that take a long time to heal

    Fever is also a common symptom of infection.

    The risk for serious infection generally increases as:

    • Neutrophil count goes down
    • Duration of severe neutropenia gets longer

    Neutropenia Causes

    The causes of neutropenia include:

    • Problem in the production of neutrophils in the bone marrow
    • Destruction of neutrophils outside the bone marrow
    • Infection
    • Nutritional deficiency

    Causes of decreased production of neutrophils include:

    • Being born with a problem with bone marrow production (congenital)
    • Leukemia and other conditions that affect the bone marrow or lead to bone marrow failure
    • Radiation
    • Chemotherapy

    Infections that can cause neutropenia include:

    • Tuberculosis
    • Dengue fever
    • Viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, HIV, viral hepatitis

    Increased destruction of neutrophils can be due to the body's immune system targeting neutrophils for destruction. This may be related to having an autoimmune condition, such as:

    • Crohn's disease
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Lupus

    In some people, neutropenia can be caused by certain medications, such as:

    • Antibiotics
    • Blood pressure drugs
    • Psychiatric drugs
    • Epilepsy drugs

     

    Neutropenia Treatment

    When deciding on treatment, health care providers consider the cause and severity of the neutropenia. Mild cases may not need any treatment.

    Approaches for treating neutropenia include:

    • Antibiotics for bacterial infections, if the underlying cause is an infection
    • A treatment called granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). This stimulates the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. It is used for several types of neutropenia, including congenital types. This treatment can be lifesaving in these cases.
    • Changing medications, if possible, in cases of drug-induced neutropenia
    • Granulocyte (white blood cell) transfusion
    • Stem cell transplants may be useful in treating some types of severe neutropenia, including those caused by bone marrow problems.

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    acupuncture needle on shoulder
    10 tips to look and feel good.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    woman biting a big ice cube
    Habits that wreck your teeth.
    apple slices with peanut butter
    What goes best with workouts?
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.