Neutropenia is a condition that results when the body does not have enough neutrophils, an important white blood cell that fights infections. The lower your neutrophil count, the more vulnerable you are to infectious diseases.
Neutropenia is defined as an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) of less than 1500 per microliter (1500/microL). Severe neutropenia is defined as less than 500 per microliter (500/microL).
There are many reasons for neutropenia to occur, including autoimmune conditions, medications and viral infections, radiation treatment or chemotherapy. Some primary immunodeficiency diseases can also be a cause.
Neutropenia can be mild or severe, acute or chronic, depending on the underlying cause.
Infections happen frequently and can be quite serious. Some common symptoms include:
• Skin infections
• Mouth ulcers
• Gum disease
Neutropenia is detected through a blood screening to measure the amount of neutrophils.
Treatment of neutropenia is based upon the underlying cause, severity and the presence of associated infections. Preventative measures such as frequent hand washing or wearing a mask may also be helpful.