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Neutropenia – causes, side effects and treatments at

Thursday, May 24, 2018 by

Neutropenia is a worrisome medical condition that describes having little to no neutrophils, a granulocyte comprising 60 percent of a white blood cell. Neutrophils are important because they are responsible for digesting harmful microorganisms. Neutropenia is often interchanged with agranulocytosis (literally meaning having no white blood cells) or granulocytopenia (having little or limited white blood cells); however, the correct term is neutropenia as white blood cells do consist of other compounds other than neutrophils.   

Neutropenia is usually the result of a viral infection or after radiation and chemotherapy. The condition lowers the immune response and makes the person more susceptible to various bacterial and fungal infections.

Known side effects of neutropenia

Neutropenia has no specific symptoms other than the severity of the patient’s current infection. Severe forms of the condition can make a person more vulnerable to periodontal disease and bacterial pneumonia. It is typical for patients with neutropenia to have a chronic fever.

Body systems harmed by neutropenia

The condition harms the entire body. Having neutropenia exacerbates existing medical conditions making the recovery process slower. It also increases the risk of developing other conditions caused by infection.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent neutropenia

Not much information is available on the types of food that can prevent the condition — especially because it is usually a side effect of chemotherapy or an ongoing viral infection.

What many medical professionals instead suggest is a diet that promotes a stronger immune system while the patient is undergoing radiation therapy or is treating the existing medical condition. The diet should be rich in foods that show potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

Treatments, management plans for neutropenia

Treatment for neutropenia depends on the cause. Usually, antibiotics are given to combat a bacterial infection. Patients are told to eat healthily while recovering. They are also advised to reduce the amount of stress they experience, cut down on smoking, limit their alcohol consumption, practice mind-body exercises, and get enough sleep.

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are encouraged to have their white blood cell count regularly checked to determine appropriate dietary changes.

In some cases, neutropenia may require blood transfusion and medicines that stimulate white blood cell production.

Where to learn more


Neutropenia describes having little to no neutrophils in the body.

These are granulocytes found in white blood cells that are essential in killing off harmful bacteria.

The condition is usually a side effect of a viral infection or chemotherapy.

Treatment and management plans for the condition involves the underlying cause.

Those with neutropenia are encouraged to practice healthier lifestyle habits to hasten their recovery process.

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