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What causes a low granulocyte count?

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Quick Answer

According to MedicineNet, a low granulocyte count can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, certain cancers, chemotherapy drugs, radiation treatment or certain autoimmune disorders. A low granulocyte count can also occur in healthy people without any known cause. Granulocytes are immune cells that are filled with toxic granules. These granules release toxic compounds that target and kill bacteria and virus particles.

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Full Answer

MedicineNet states that a low granulocyte count is also known as neutropenia. Neutropenia is classified by a neutrophil count of less than 1,500 neutrophils per microliter. Neutrophils are the most abundant type of granulocyte. Other types of granulocytes include basophils and eosinophils. If the number of neutrophils falls below the threshold number of 1,500 cells per microliters, then patients will be unable to adequately fight off infections in their bodies.

According to MedicineNet, patients can have mild, moderate or severe neutropenia depending on the number of neutrophils they have circulating in their bloodstreams. Mild cases often produce no symptoms, while severe cases can be serious. Treatment of the condition involves treating the underlying cause of the low blood counts. Once the underlying cause of the neutropenia is treated, the patient’s neutrophil level should return to normal.

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    What is a normal granulocyte count?

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    According to About.com, there are two types of granulocytes: ploys and bands, each of which is counted separately to determine the absolute granulocyte count. A normal AGC reading is between 2,500 and 6,000, with lower normal granulocyte counts typical for African-Americans and southeast Asians.

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    How is granulocyte count measured?

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    To take a granulocyte count, scientists take a differential white blood cell, or WBC, count, according to the University of Nebraska Omaha. This count measures the presence of neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils, alongside other blood products.

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    What does "low white blood cells" mean?

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    What does a low white blood cell count mean?

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    A low white blood cell count, called leukopenia, may indicate bone marrow problems, autoimmune disorders, diseases involving the liver or spleen, certain cancers, or certain illnesses caused by viruses, states MedlinePlus. Severe bacterial infections, certain medications and radiation treatment for cancer may also lower white blood cell count.

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