Neutropenia Facts You Should Know About

When you are free to do something you always want to do, the sense of freedom can give you ultimate enjoyment. For instance, I could ride my motorcycle anytime I want and take it to anywhere I like. That for me spells the word enjoyment. If you have this same freedom as I have, you are very fortunate because you are not like those people with neutropenia.

I recently read somewhere about people who are deprived of some sort of freedom and among them are neutropenia patients. These are people who cannot eat just anything they want to eat, go to places they want to visit, spend time with anyone close to them, or do something they really enjoy doing; all because they have to observe neutropenic precautions.

Neutropenia is a condition where the patient has a low level of circulating neutrophils in the blood. Neutrophils are white blood cells produced by the bone marrow and are responsible for killing pathogens and bacteria by engulfing them. Without the right level of neutrophils in the blood, the patient will be at risk of infection from exposure to bacteria in their food, surroundings and even in their own bodies.

There are various factors that can cause neutropenia and they can be classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are mostly underlying health conditions such as reticular dysgenesis, congenital neutropenia, myelokathexis, cyclic neutropenia, Fanconi’s anemia, famililial benign neutropenia, dyskeratosis congenital and others. On the other hand, extrinsic factors include drug-induced neutropenia, nutritional deficiencies, immune neonatal neutropenia, neutropenia associated with metabolic problems or immune dysfunction, bone marrow infiltration, and chronic idiopathic neutropenia among others.

The threshold in defining how severe your neutropenia is depends on how much neutrophils are in your blood. In adults, it is anything from 1,700 per microliter of blood or fewer. The lower your neutrophil level is, the more vulnerable you are to infectious diseases. If your neutrophil is 500 per microliter or fewer, even bacteria that are normally present in your body can cause you to suffer infection.

Neutropenia can only be diagnosed through a blood test that involves counting your white blood cells. Normally, patients already experience certain symptoms that cause them to have their white blood cells counted. But further diagnosis and tests can help your doctor identify the root cause of your neutropenia.

Once diagnosed, various treatments can be administered to a neutropenic patient. This could include taking of antifungal or antibiotics to fight off infections. At the same time, your doctor may also advise you to follow certain precautions like avoiding certain foods especially uncooked ones. You may also not be allowed to be around people with infectious diseases and to go to places like hospitals and construction sites where the risk of contracting infection is high. Certain activities may also be prohibited unless special precautions are observed, such as gardening which exposes you to bacteria from dirt. Other common treatments are granulocyte transfusions, corticosteroid therapy and others.

We need to understand that other people are not as free as we are because of certain health reasons. And we must help them cope with those limitations. At the same time, we must appreciate the freedom that we have because we will never know when we cannot enjoy it anymore.


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