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Understanding the Causes of Neutropenia and How to Treat It

Neutropenia is a condition in which the number of neutrophils that are part of white blood cells in the blood decreases. Without enough neutrophils, the body is difficult to fight bacteria and can increase the risk of various types of infections. In adults, said neutropenia if the number of neutrophils is less than 1,500 per microliter. Whereas in children, the limit on the number of cells that show neutropenia varies with age.

Factors That Cause Neutropenia

The main cause of neutropenia is cancer chemotherapy. Someone who experiences neutropenia due to chemotherapy, is very susceptible to bacterial infections. Other causes of neutropenia are infections, such as tuberculosis bacteria, Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis, sepsis, dengue fever and HIV / AIDS. Some conditions are known to increase the risk of neutropenia, including:
  • Lack of vitamins
  • Congenital abnormalities (congenital) in the function of the bone marrow, such as Kostmann's syndrome
  • Bone marrow diseases, such as leukemia, myelodisplasia syndrome, myelofibrosis, and aplastic anemia.
  • Automatic destruction of neutrophils, both from disease or from drugs that stimulate the immune system
Neutropenia can also occur due to certain medications, such as antibiotics, blood pressure medications, psychiatric drugs, epilepsy drugs, and radiation therapy.

Recognizing the Symptoms Caused

Not all neutropenic conditions will show specific symptoms. Some cases of neutropenia are known on blood tests due to other conditions. If symptoms occur, generally due to complications or due to conditions causing neutropenia. Symptoms that arise can be classified as mild to severe. The lower the neutrophil level, the symptoms that arise can be more severe or numerous. Fever is a symptom that appears in the state of neutropenia, generally a sign of infection. Infection can occur in the form of rashes, abscesses or wounds that do not heal immediately. In addition, neutropenia can also be related to other conditions in the form of:
  • Ear infection
  • Sinusitis
  • Gingivitis
  • Pneumonia
In patients with severe congenital neutropenia, there will usually be serious symptoms due to a bacterial infection. This infection can attack the skin, digestive system and breathing.

How to treat Neutropenia

To determine treatment, the doctor will consider the cause and severity of neutropenia. In mild cases it may not require special treatment. For bacterial infections, the doctor will likely give antibiotics. If neutropenia is caused by a drug that is consumed, then the doctor will replace the drug. Some other drugs that can overcome neutropenia, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immunoglobulins, glucocorticoids, corticosteroids, immunosuppressant drugs, and cytokines. Some cases of neutropenia can be treated with granulocyte-colony stimulating factors (G-CSF) or granulocyte colony stimulation factors. G-CSF treatment functions in stimulating the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. G-CSF is usually given as an injection under the skin. This treatment method is known to be effective. However, for some of the more severe cases, bone marrow transplantation may be needed. Especially when G-CSF treatment fails, there is damage to bone marrow function or in patients with leukemia. The emergence of the condition of neutropenia, especially accompanied by the emergence of complaints or symptoms, needs to be identified clearly, so that it can be treated properly to avoid complications that may occur. Always consult with a doctor to ensure the condition of neutropenia and appropriate treatment.


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