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Neutropenia: What it Is, Types, Symptoms & Causes

Home > Blogs > Neutropenia: What it Is, Types, Symptoms & Causes

Neutropenia: What it Is, Types, Symptoms & Causes

Cardiology | by Dr. Anil Mishra | Published on 29/02/2024


Do you often experience sore throat or persistent infections? If yes, then you must book your appointment with healthcare professionals at BM Birla Heart Research Center in Kolkata as it indicates neutropenia. Neutropenia is a medical condition identified by a decrease in the number of neutrophils. It is a type of white blood cell vital to fight against infections. Individuals become more vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections when neutrophil levels drop below normal causing serious health complications. In this blog, we will delve into several aspects of neutropenia, including its definition, normal neutrophil levels, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment options, and precautionary measures. However, please note that it is research-based information and we do not encourage overlooking the doctor’s consultation in any way. 

What is Neutropenia?

Neutropenia is a condition characterized by an abnormally low count of neutrophils in the bloodstream. Neutrophils play an important role in the body's immune response, as they identify and destroy dangerous pathogens, specifically bacteria and fungi. When neutrophil levels are not enough, the body's efficiency to ward off infections becomes jeopardized, putting affected people at higher risk of contracting diseases.

What are Normal Neutrophil Levels? 

In healthy people, the normal range for neutrophil count usually ranges between 2,500 and 6,000 cells per microliter of blood. Variations from this range are an indication of neutropenia. It's vital to understand that normal ranges might differ slightly between different laboratories and may be affected by factors like age, sex, and ethnicity.

What are Neutropenia symptoms?

Neutropenia symptoms differ depending on the seriousness of the condition and the existence of any underlying infections. It's important to seek immediate clinical attention if you experience any of these symptoms, especially when the patient has a history of neutropenia or underlying health conditions. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of neutropenia:

  • Repeated or persistent infections like bacterial pneumonia, skin abscesses, or urinary tract infections.
  • Fever is usually escorted by chills and sweating, representing the body's immune response to an infection.
  • Sore throat, and mouth ulcers, involving other oral complications.
  • Skin infections, including boils, cellulitis, or fungal infections.
  • Overall weakness, fatigue, or malaise.

What are Neutropenia Causes?

Causes of neutropenia arise from several conditions such as:

  • Congenital Disorders: Some people inherit genetic mutations affecting the production or function of neutrophils causing congenital neutropenia syndromes.
  • Acquired Disorders: Conditions like aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, or leukemia interrupt the formation of neutrophils in the bone marrow.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Felty syndrome cause the immune system to falsely attack and harm neutrophils.
  • Infections: Viral infections like HIV, hepatitis, or Epstein-Barr virus represses bone marrow functionality and diminish the formation of neutrophils.
  • Medications: Certain drugs, containing chemotherapy agents, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, or immunosuppressants lead to inducing neutropenia as a side effect.

How is Neutropenia Diagnosed?

Healthcare experts usually involve a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis of neutropenia. Here are some of these tests:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test assists in measuring the number of white blood cells that involve neutrophils in the bloodstream.
  • Peripheral Blood Smear: A microscopic examination of a blood sample helps in determining any abnormalities in the size, shape, or blood cell distribution.
  • Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy: In certain cases, a bone marrow biopsy is required to assess the formation and maturation of blood cells within the bone marrow.
  • Additional Tests: Additional tests such as genetic screening, autoimmune antibody testing, or viral serology are required depending on the identified cause of neutropenia.

What are the Options for Neutropenia Treatment?

Treatment strategies for neutropenia aim to increase neutrophil levels, prevent infections, and manage underlying conditions. Depending on the severity and underlying cause of neutropenia, treatment options may include:

  • Medications: Growth factors such as granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) can stimulate the production of neutrophils in the bone marrow.
  • Antibiotics: Prophylactic antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent bacterial infections in individuals with severe neutropenia.
  • Treating Underlying Conditions: Addressing the underlying cause, such as adjusting medications or managing autoimmune disorders, can help improve neutrophil levels.
  • Bone Marrow Transplant: In cases of severe or persistent neutropenia caused by bone marrow disorders, a bone marrow transplant may be considered as a potential treatment option.

What are Neutropenia Precautions?

By taking precautions and working closely with healthcare experts, people with neutropenia can reduce the risk of infections and lead to quality of life. Here are some of the best precautions that one should take to minimize the risks linked to neutropenia :

  • Practice Good Hygiene: Wash hands repeatedly with soap and water, particularly before eating or preparing food, and after you use the restroom.
  • Avoid Sick Individuals: Reduce exposure to people who are sick or have contagious diseases, mainly during flu season or the eruption of infectious illnesses.
  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Make sure to involve a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support general health and immune functionality. 
  • Regular exercise and sleep: Get regular exercise and proper sleep to minimize stress and improve immunity.
  • Follow Medical Advice: Make sure to follow prescribed medications, treatment routines, and follow-up appointments as suggested by healthcare experts. Ensure vaccinations are up-to-date, including annual flu shots and other prescribed immunizations.
  • Monitor for Symptoms: Be watchful for signs of infection like fever, sore throat, or unusual skin changes, and seek immediate clinical attention if symptoms occur.
  • Communicate with Healthcare Providers: Make sure to inform your healthcare provider about any changes in symptoms, medication side effects, or apprehensions associated with neutropenia management.


In conclusion, neutropenia is an intricate clinical medical that needs comprehensive assessment management, and precautionary measures. With initial diagnosis, adequate treatment, and careful precautions, people with neutropenia can efficiently manage their condition and minimize the risk of complications. If you suspect you might have neutropenia or are experiencing symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare expert for proper evaluation and direction.

Faq -


What happens when neutrophils are high?

High neutrophil levels are an indication of infection, inflammation, stress, and medications. In certain cases, it might represent underlying conditions such as autoimmune disorders, leukemia, or bacterial infections. 

Is neutrophilia dangerous?

Yes, neutrophilia is dangerous if it is not treated on time, it requires immediate clinical assessment and adequate management to avert complications. 

How to increase neutrophils naturally?

It is recommended to involve a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients such as vitamins C, and E, zinc, and protein. You must also involve immune-boosting foods such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, lean meats, legumes, seeds, and nuts. In addition, make sure to focus on regular exercise, proper sleep, and managing sleep.