Understanding the Causes of Neutropenia and How to Treat It

Neutropenia is a condition when the number of neutrophil cells in the blood decreases. This condition makes it difficult for the body to fight bad bacteria, making it vulnerable to various types of infections. Therefore, it is important to know about neutropenia so that treatment steps can be taken immediately.

Neutrophils are part of the white blood cells produced in the bone marrow. This type of white blood cell plays an important role in fighting infection-causing bacteria and fungi that enter the body.

A person is said to have neutropenia if the number of neutrophil cells is less than 1,500 per microliter. The lower the number of neutrophils in the body, the higher a person's risk for infection.

Some Causes of Neutropenia

Neutropenia generally occurs when the bone marrow produces more damaged or dead neutrophil cells, so the number of these cells in the blood decreases over time.

In addition, there are several things that can also cause neutropenia, namely:

  • Infections, such as sepsis or blood infection, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and dengue fever
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Disorders of the bone marrow, such as myelodysplastic syndrome, myelofibrosis, and cancers that attack the bone marrow, such as leukemia and lymphoma
  • Swelling of the spleen
  • Side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Side effects of certain medications, such as antibiotics, epilepsy medications, and medications for heart problems such as hydralazine and quinidine
  • Malnutrition or malnutrition
  • Congenital abnormalities or birth defects, such as Kostmann . syndrome

Signs and Symptoms of Neutropenia

Neutropenia sometimes does not cause special symptoms, so it is often only detected through a complete blood count. However, if symptoms do occur, they are generally due to a complication or condition underlying the neutropenia, such as pneumonia or a lung infection.

Symptoms that appear can be mild to severe. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of neutropenia:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Wounds that are hard to heal
  • Prolonged thrush
  • Skin rash with abscess or pus formation
  • Weak and tired
  • Digestive disorders, such as diarrhea and vomiting

These symptoms usually occur when the immune system of a neutropenic patient is very weak, making it easy for infections to occur.

Some Steps of Neutropenia Treatment

Before determining the method of treatment, the doctor will conduct a complete medical examination to determine the cause. Examinations performed usually include a physical examination as well as supporting examinations, such as complete blood tests, X-rays, and spinal cord aspiration.

After the doctor confirms the diagnosis of neutropenia and has determined the cause, the doctor will determine the treatment action according to the cause of the neutropenia experienced by the patient.

There are several treatment steps that doctors can take to treat neutropenia, including:

Administration of drugs

Basically, the administration of drugs to treat neutropenia is adjusted according to the cause. For example, if the neutropenia is caused by a severe infection or sepsis, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it.

Meanwhile, if the neutropenia is caused by an autoimmune disorder, the doctor will prescribe corticosteroids.

In cases of neutropenia that are classified as severe, doctors can give drugs to increase the number of neutrophil cells. These drugs include: granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF).

Bone marrow transplant

This method is used when other treatment measures have not been successful in treating the neutropenia or if the neutropenia is caused by permanent bone marrow damage, such as cancer or genetic disorders.

Bone marrow transplantation is done by grafting healthy bone marrow from another person into the bone marrow of a neutropenic patient who no longer functions.

Before undergoing a bone marrow transplant, doctors need to check whether the bone marrow from the donor matches the patient's body. If suitable, then bone marrow transplant surgery can be done.

However, this method has some risks and complications, such as rejection reactions to new bone marrow, infection, increased risk of cancer, and bone marrow failure.

To find out whether you suffer from neutropenia or not, you can undergo a medical examination to the doctor. To evaluate your health condition and determine the number of neutrophil white blood cells, your doctor will perform a series of tests.

If you are declared to have neutropenia or other medical conditions that cause neutropenia, the doctor will provide treatment according to your condition.