One kind of blood disorder which can impact anyone and where the person affected has lower-than-normal levels of neutrophils, which are a type of white blood cell; is known as Neutropenia. The person suffering from Neutropenia can get various infections easily in case he or she is known to be severely neutropenic. In this current article, we will take a look on what the condition of being Neutropenic is and talk about some of the causes, symptoms and treatments procedures for neutropenia.

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What is Neutropenic Condition & What Does It Signify?

You know someone is neutropenic if he or she shows a lower-than normal levels of neutrophils in the blood. Neutropenia is, in fact, a blood disorder which can affect anyone.

Neutrophils are the immune system cells that attach bacteria and various other organisms invading your body. Neutrophils are a type of WBC (white blood cell), which are created by the bone marrow and then travel into your bloodstream so as to move in the areas of infection for killing the invading microorganism by releasing chemicals. So, in case of netropenic patients, they have a lower levels of neutrophil cells; and hence there are greater chances of infection.

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We will know more about the condition of being neutropenic, in the following arrays of our article.

Some Facts About Neutropenic Condition:

  • You are said to be neutropenic when the number of neutrophils in the bloodstream reduces and this in turn affects the body’s ability to fight against the invading microbes or infections.
  • Neutropenia can be defined as an ANC or Absolute neutrophil count of less than 1500 per microliter.
  • Neutropenic condition may be caused by or associated with various medical conditions.
  • Most infections that occur due to the neutropenic condition are from bacteria that are present normally on the skin or in the urinary tract or the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Treatment for neutropenic condition depends on the severity of the condition as well as the underlying cause for the state of neutropenia.

Various Types of Neutropenia: Based on the Severity of the Neutropenic Condition

Based on its severity, neutropenia can be divided to some specific types. Below we will take a look on some of the most important types of the neutropenic condition based on its severity:

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  1. Mild Neutropenic condition in Neutropenia: This neutropenic condition is when the ANC falls below a lower limit of 1500 per mm3, but remains higher than 1000 per mm3
  2. Moderate Neutropenic Condition in Neutropenia: This neutropenic condition is said to occur when the ANC falls between 500 per mm3 and 1000 per mm3
  3. Severe Neutropenic Condition in Neutropenia: This neutropenic condition is said to occur when the ANC falls below 500 per mm3.

What is a Chronic Neutropenic Condition?

Usually the neutropenic conditions are short-lived. However, when the neutropenic condition in a patient remains for more than 3 months, it is described as Chronic Neutropenia. These severe chronic neutropenic conditions can be serious pediatric issues in the newborns who are born with the birth defects of lower neutrophil counts in their blood. Severe chronic neutropenia can be of several types including cyclic chronic neutropenia, congenital neutropenia, idiopathic severe neutropenia etc.

Causes of Neutropenia: What Are The Underlying Conditions That Can Make You Neutropenic?

There are certain conditions, which cause neutropenia and make you neutropenic and these causes are:

  • Problem with the neutrophil production in the bone marrow.
  • Destruction of neutrophils outside the bone marrow.
  • Nutritional deficiency.
  • Infections.
  • Radiation and chemotherapy may also lead to a decreased production of neutrophils.
  • Leukemia can affect the bone marrow and lead to failure of bone marrow and make a person neutropenic.
  • Infections like Tuberculosis can lead to neutropenia.
  • Dengue fever is a condition, which can cause a decreased neutrophil count in the blood and make you neutropenic.
  • Viral infections like HIV, Viral Hepatitis, Cytomegalovirus etc. can make you neutropenic.
  • Neutropenia may also be due to some autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Crohn’s disease etc., where the body’s own immune system targets and destroys the neutrophils.
  • Certain medications like epilepsy drugs, psychiatric drugs, drugs taken for blood pressure, antibiotics etc. can also cause the neutropenic condition.

Neutropenia Symptoms: What are the Characteristic Symptoms of a Neutropenic Condition?

Neutropenia itself does not often cause symptoms. However, in some cases, affected persons may have other symptoms due to infection or any of the underlying causes making them neutropenic. Following are some of the infection and symptoms that a neutropenic patient may show:

  • Ulcers.
  • Collections of pus or abscesses.
  • Rashes.
  • Wounds taking longer time to heal.
  • Fever also is one of the common symptoms of infection in neutropenia.

These neutropenic symptoms worsen in case the neutrophil count decreases drastically or in case the severity of the neutropenic condition persists for long.

When is it Essential to Contact your Doctor in Neutropenic Condition?

It is essential to know when to reach your doctor in order to treat or reduce symptoms of the neutropenic condition. Let us discuss about the symptoms of neutropenia, which require immediate medical attention:

  • If you have fever or chills.
  • In case you have a new cough.
  • In case there is a pain in abdomen or rectum.
  • If you have redness or swelling in any place of the body.
  • If you experience a sore throat or a new mouth sore.
  • In case you show symptoms of diarrhea.
  • In case you have a burning sensation while urinating.
  • If you feel more tired and forgetful than usual.

Diagnosis of the Neutropenic Condition

A full blood count would help in detecting the low neutrophil counts; and hence diagnose the neutropenic condition. Usually there are various other investigations essential for arriving at the right diagnosis of neutropenic condition. Some of the common investigations performed to diagnose the neutropenic condition include:

  • Serial neutrophil counts for suspected cyclic neutropenia.
  • Tests for anti-neutrophil antibodies.
  • Autoantibody screen.
  • Investigations for systemic lupus erythematosus etc.
  • Ham’s tests and folate assays are also some common diagnosis tests done to know about the neutropenic condition.
  • A bone marrow biopsy is often necessary in case the diagnosis of neutropenia is uncertain or in case there is a suspicion of any serious underlying cause for the neutropenic condition.

Neutropenia Treatments: How to Treat the Neutropenic Condition?

Treatment for Neutropenia depends on the cause and severity of the neutropenic condition. Usually mild cases of neutropenia do not require any treatment. In the following section we will know about some of the treatment ways of neutropenic conditions.

  • Antibiotic Treatments for Neutropenic Conditions: Bacterial infections due to neutropenic conditions are usually treated by antibiotics. Amifostine is used to treat the neutropenic infections associated with Cisplatin and Cyclophosphamide.
  • Treating Neutropenic Condition with Medications: There are also certain medications for treating the neutropenic condition. Usually the drug-induced neutropenia are treated by changing the medications if necessary.
  • “G- CSF or Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor” as a treatment for Neutropenia: There is one treatment for Neutropenia known as G-CSF or Granulocyte Colony-stimulating factor. This neutropenia treatment helps in stimulating the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. This is used for the treatment for various neutropenic conditions including congenital types of the neutropenic conditions.
  • Treating the Neutropenic Condition via Stem Cell Transplant: Stem cell transplant can be useful in treating certain types of severe neutropenia, like those which are caused by bone marrow problems.
  • Other Ways to Treat or Reduce the Neutropenic Condition: Usually neutropenic condition can be treated by treating the underlying cause of the condition. This can be done by proper diagnosis of the cause of the neutropenic condition and accordingly take the essential treatment as prescribed by your doctor.

Other steps to treat the neutropenic conditions include those which are used to prevent the infections caused due to neutropenia; like keeping good hygiene, avoiding contact with sick people, avoiding unpasteurized dairy foods, uncooked meat or raw vegetables and fruits etc.

Conclusion

Here we discussed about the causes, symptoms and some of the treatments ways for neutropenic conditions. It is important to note that in case of any serious symptoms of neutropenia; one must go for immediate doctor’s consultation and start the treatment for neutropenic condition as advised by the doctor.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: January 9, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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