What Causes Low Levels of Neutrophils?

Causes of low levels of neutrophils include the reduction of neutrophil production in the bone marrow, destruction of neutrophils in the bloodstream and hereditary diseases, such as congenital agranulocytosis, states Medical News Today. Most complications that occur following low levels of neutrophils are due to bacteria that mainly live in the urinary tract or on the skin, notes MedicineNet.

Neutrophils are cells that protect the body from infections. Low levels of neutrophils, called neutropenia, mean that the body cannot fight against bacterial infections, reports Healthline. Infections like tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, HIV and folic acid deficiency can affect the bone marrow, causing a reduced production of neutrophils. Autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can also use up or destroy neutrophils. A person can also be born with fewer neutrophils than normal, a condition called congenital agranulocytosis, explains Medical News Today.

The risk of developing neutropenia increases with conditions like leukemia, cancer and a weakened immune system and triggers such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, according to Healthline. Most people who have neutropenia only learn that they have it after a test for a different condition. Symptoms include mouth ulcers, fever, sore throat and painful urination, states Medical News Today.