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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Neutropenia is a condition that causes you to have a low number of neutrophils in your blood. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell produced in the bone marrow. They help your body fight infection and bacteria. Neutropenia can develop if there is damage to your bone marrow or if your body uses or destroys neutrophils faster than they can be produced.
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Medicines may be used to help control your neutropenia and infections. Ask your healthcare provider about these and other medicines you may be given:
- Growth factors stimulate your bone marrow to produce neutrophils.
- Antibiotics help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- Antifungal medicine helps kill fungus that can cause illness.
- Corticosteroids help keep your immune system working properly if your neutropenia is caused by an autoimmune condition.
Healthcare providers may monitor your vital signs every 1 to 4 hours. Your healthcare providers will pay close attention to your temperature. Fevers are a sign of infection.
Some tests may need to be repeated so healthcare providers will know if your treatment is working. Ask your healthcare provider about these and any other tests you may need:
- Blood tests , such as blood cultures, will show if your body is working properly. Tests will also show if you have an infection and if treatment is working.
- Urine tests will show if you have an infection of your bladder or kidneys.
- CT scan is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your lungs, abdomen, brain, or sinuses. The pictures may show infections in your lungs, intestines and colon, or spleen. A stroke or infection in your sinuses can also be seen. You may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
- A bone marrow biopsy is when a sample of bone marrow is removed and sent to a lab for tests. Healthcare providers put a numbing medicine into your skin so you will have little pain. A needle is inserted into your hip bone, and a sample of marrow is pulled out. A bandage is put on the biopsy area after the tissue sample is taken. The sample will be sent to a lab to be tested to see if your bone marrow is producing neutrophils.
Your healthcare providers may need to stop giving you medicines that can cause neutropenia. They may change the foods you eat if nutrition problems caused your neutropenia. You may be placed in a single room until the cause of your neutropenia is found and neutrophil levels are higher. This keeps you protected from other people who may have infections. Your healthcare providers will instruct all visitors to wash their hands before and after visiting you. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about neutropenic precautions.
Neutropenia may cause infections in your skin, mouth, and anal area. It may cause a serious infection throughout your body, called sepsis. You may need to be hospitalized. If untreated, the infection may be life-threatening.
CARE AGREEMENT:You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.