Granulocytopenia is a condition in which an individual has a decreased number of granulocytes in the blood. Granulocytes are white blood cells in the blood. Specifically, granulocytes have little sacs inside of their cells that contain chemicals to help fight bad organisms in the blood. Therefore, a reduced number of granulocytes makes it more difficult for the body to fight infections. This leads individuals to develop frequent skin, lung, and throat infections. Additional symptoms include sores in the mouth, throat, or digestive tract, fever, chills, weakness, and lightheadedness. If the condition is left untreated, it may result in premature deaths due to bacterial infections in the blood.
The cause of granulocytopenia is problems with the bone marrow, which produces blood cells. The bone marrow in individuals with this condition cannot produce enough cells that turn into granulocytes. This condition can be genetic or it can be acquired over time. If it is acquired, some causes may include chemotherapy, the use of certain prescription drugs, exposure to toxic substances, and other medical conditions. If the condition is genetic, it involves changes in the GCSFR gene.
This condition is typically diagnosed through doctors asking about medical history and general health, and through doing a physical exam. Often times, complete blood counts (CBCs) will be done in order to look at the level of granulocytes in the blood, in addition to bone marrow biopsies. If doctors believe that the condition is due to genetic causes, genetic testing may be ordered as well. Treatment for granulocytopenia varies based on the causes of the condition in individual cases. Some treatments include stopping medications believed to have caused the disease, antibiotics, shots of a hormone that helps the bone marrow make more granulocytes, and in extreme cases, a bone marrow transplant.
Description Last Updated: Feb 25, 2018