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Neutropenia (say "noo-truh-PEE-nee-uh") means that your blood has too few neutrophils. These are white blood cells that help protect the body from infection. They do this by killing bacteria.
Neutropenia can be caused by some types of infection. It also can be caused by immune system conditions such as HIV or lupus, a lack of vitamin B12 or folic acid, or an enlarged spleen. Some medicines can cause it too. It is most often caused by treatments for certain health problems, such as chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer.
Mild neutropenia usually causes no symptoms. But when it's severe, it increases the risk of infection of your skin and organs. That's because your body can't fight off germs as well as it should.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: December 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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