March 12, 2010

Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Diagnosis of Neutropenia

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Neutropenia is a medical condition in which the number of neutrophils in the bloodstream becomes lower than the normally prescribed count. Neutrophils are basically one of the five types of white blood cells that are important for maintaining the immunity of the body. Neutropenia, medically known as polymorphonuclear leukocytes, can severely damage the body’s defenses, rendering the body incapable of fighting off infections.

The Neutrophils account for about 75% of the total white blood cell count and when their count falls below 1,000, the risk of getting infected begins to increase. With each subsequent dip in the count, the danger of getting infected becomes more apparent.


Every time the body encounters an infection, some of the white blood cells get destroyed. However, when the white blood cells get destroyed at a rate faster than the rate at which the bone marrow produces these cells, the Neutrophils deplete very fast. Due to this depletion, the body’s guard is turned down and the body becomes susceptible to bacterial, viral and fungal infections.

Allergic disorders and drug treatments can cause the destruction of the neutrophils faster than anything else. Those who are suffering from spleen disorders, like an enlarged spleen can also have a decreased neutrophil count as their diseased spleen is unable to synthesize the white blood cells normally. Aplastic anemia is another condition in which the bone marrow ceases to produce any blood cells.


The onset of neutropenia is usually sudden. Sometimes, it just takes a few hours for a person to start suffering. However, in many cases, it can take about a year for the person to get affected. The diagnosis is always made after the symptoms begin to first appear. Though there are no symptoms specific to neutropenia, people tend to experience fever and may develop painful rashes and sores around the mouth and in the anal region.

After these initial symptoms, the person may experience pneumonia caused due to bacteria. The infections thereafter become more frequent and unusual.


The cause of the disease would determine the course that of the treatment. If the disorder has occurred due to a particular medication, the said medication is stopped immediately. Exposure to toxins can also be decreased if they are causing the disorder. If the neutropenia has occurred due to an infection, it is usually transient and gets better as soon as the infection is treated. However, those suffering from sever neutropenia have to be hospitalized and administered antibiotics.