Low Neutrophils: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

When our body is fighting infectious viruses and bacteria, white blood cells come into action and allow us to win the fight with the intruder. Among the different types of white blood cells, there are neutrophils, cells with an important function in the body.

What are Neutrophils?

They are known as a common type of White blood cell in the human body. They are produced in the bone marrow until they consolidate and move into the bloodstream. Its shelf life lasts from 3 to 4 days.

Its functions

These leukocytes are like that first group of soldiers prepared to fight the enemy virus on the battlefield. The greatest differentiation that we can find of this type of white blood cell is that move from the bloodstream to the soft tissue or organ attacked by the bacteria or infectious agent.

In other words, neutrophils are an essential part of maintaining a healthy immune system. in people.

What does it mean to have low neutrophils?

When neutrophils are low it is known as neutropenia. To diagnose that neutrophils are low, a blood test must first be performed. If the results show a number below the average, it means that we have a defenseless immune system and that we will not be in the conditions to face an infection or any other damage caused by viruses.

Normal levels of neutrophils in the blood are between 2,000 and 7,000 per cubic millimeter of blood. To say that we have low neutrophils the test must give 1000 or fewer neutrophils per cubic millimeter of blood.


Since the presence of a low number reflects a defenseless immune system, the symptoms that we manifest are directly related to the conditions of the original infection.


One of the causes of neutropenia is our body’s own deficiency, which is not capable of producing the neutrophils necessary to boost the immune system. This can occur congenitally, and since these leukocytes are produced from the bone marrow, leukemia can be another cause of neutropenia.

On the other hand, the most common cause It is the attack of an infectious bacteria, such as tuberculosis or malaria. We must take into consideration that there are other less frequent causes for low neutrophils such as:

  • Medications that weaken the bone marrow
  • Chemical treatments like chemotherapy that throw the immune system out of control

Which is the treatment?

The treatment to counteract a low level of these leukocytes is by increasing their production in the body. For mild cases such as a fungal infection, treatment consists of:

  • Antibiotics
  • Corticosteroids

For patients with autoimmune diseases:

Let’s not forget that low neutrophils expose the body to other infections and virus attacks, which is why it is necessary to increase our personal hygiene care when suffering from neutropenia and, if possible, avoid intimate contact with other people. Thus we reduce complications with neutropenia.

In the case of cancer patients, who are in the process of chemotherapy, remember that this treatment is very aggressive, affecting the bone marrow, and consequently, the white blood cells will be in less quantity throughout the body. Medications, under the instructions of a physician, used to raise low neutrophil levels are Neulasta, Prokine, Neupogen, and Leukine.

See also: How to Detect Symptoms of High Neutrophils.

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