Neutrophils are white blood cells that fight infection in the body. It is critical that neutrophils are always at normal range because of the essential role they play in the immune system. Like platelets, these cells may decrease during certain situations. An example is when one is going through myelosuppressive therapy, a treatment that inhibits the production of blood cell. The range that is considered normal and appropriate is between 45 and 70 percent.
Functions of Neutrophils
Their major role is to destroy as many infectious agents as possible. Neutrophils act as the soldiers in your innate immune system that fight germs in the body. Neutrophils are very many in the body comprising about 60 percent of the white blood cells in the blood. This makes sure that they are ever available to respond to various microbial invaders. These white blood cells are always harmed. They have granules that have antimicrobial effectors that act as natural antibiotic when the immune system senses any kind of infection in the body Antimicrobial effectors are antimicrobial proteins that are able to attack the microbes and kill them in diverse ways.
Neutrophils are always at the front line in the immune system. They are the first white blood cells to get to the site of infection followed by other innate immune cells. Neutrophils try to manage the infection until later when adaptive immune system takes control. This takes a couple of days or a few weeks to clear the infection. These white blood cells are extremely aggressive and would die to ensure they effectively play their role. They have a short lifespan of a few hours though they are constantly being manufactured by the bone marrow.
Low neutrophil count
When one has a lower level of neutrophils beyond normal range he or she is said to be suffering from a condition known as neutropenia. If an adult has neutrophil count less than 1500 microliters, he or she is considered to have neutropenia. In children, the count will vary with age.
In some people, having less than the range considered normal for neutrophils does not make them prone to infections. In such people, neutropenia is not a risk. However, it should be noted that neutrophil count lower than a thousand per microliter and especially less than five hundred is definitely going to cause neutropenia. In such cases, even normal bacterium of the digestive system and mouth can lead to serious infections.
Causes of low neutrophil count
These cells are manufactured in the bone marrow and any process or agent that interrupts the process causes neutropenia. One of the leading cause of neutropenia is chemotherapy for cancer treatment. More than half of cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy treatment suffer this condition.
Chemotherapy not only affects the neutrophils but also affects all cells in the lineage of granulocytes. But the impact is more pronounced in neutrophils as they are the most vigilant white blood cells in the immune system. When they reduce, the immune system is strained in fighting microorganisms.
Patients who are neutropenic are more prone to infections. A minor infection can get progressively worse in few minutes or hours. On the other hand, lower than normal eosinophils and basophils cannot cause such tremendous impact in a short period.
Other factors that can cause neutrophil levels to decrease include Barth syndrome, vitamin deficiencies, leukemia, myelofibrosis and myelodysplastic syndrome among others.
High neutrophil count
The major cause is infections though medication and other health complications can also lead to the condition. Neutrophil levels can rise as a result of smoking, mental depression and physical stress. Higher than normal levels of these white blood cells do not always occur due to health complications but there is need to seek medical attention from a qualified healthcare to eliminate any doubts.
Management of high neutrophil levels
Occurrence of high neutrophils without any health complications is harmless and should not be a source of alarm. In many instances, the levels will normally come down to normal on their own with time. Such cases do not require any form of treatment to lower the levels. However, it is recommended that one continuously takes tests for blood test to monitor the levels constantly.
Consulting a doctor
The doctor will inquire about the medical history of the patient. It is vital that the patient completely cooperates with the doctor in disclosing his or her health status. Let the doctor know all the medicine that you could be taking. Steroids are known to make the neutrophil levels rise. The doctor should also know if you have suffered any illness within the time range the cells count went high. The doctor should also know if you have been experiencing mental or physical stress. Very aggressive activities before one takes the blood test could make the levels be high. Pregnancy, infections, and physical injuries can also make neutrophil levels go up. Patients who smoke are advised to completely quit the habit.