Your Neutrophil Count

What Causes Abnormal Neutrophil Count?

Abnormal neutrophil count can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose abnormal neutrophil count, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "abnormal neutrophil count" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Cold Or Flu
  • Radiation Poisoning
  • Leukemia
  • Eclampsia / Preeclampsia
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Neutropenia

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
very easy bruising
elevated lymphocyte count
occasional unexplained fevers
long term neck stiffness
minor joint pain/swelling/stiffness
history of preeclampsia
Heberden's nodes
pain in cold/cool/damp weather
blood clotting problems
frequent infections
regular morning stiffness
slightly elevated eosinophil count
... and more than 20 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of abnormal neutrophil count:
Cause Probability Status
Cold Or Flu 92% Confirm
Eclampsia / Preeclampsia 30% Unlikely
Internal Bleeding 29% Unlikely
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 2% Ruled out
Radiation Poisoning 2% Ruled out
Myelodysplastic Syndrome 1% Ruled out
Neutropenia 1% Ruled out
Leukemia 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having had recent lab tests, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
White Blood Cells - Neutrophil Percentage [fraction]. If you only have the absolute neutrophil count (ANC), divide white blood cell count (WBC) by ANC, and multiply by 100.
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ Under 40% [0.40] (low)
→ 40 to 70% [0.40-0.70] (normal)
→ 71 to 80% [0.71-0.80] (elevated)
→ Over 80% [0.80] (high)
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate low neutrophil count, normal neutrophil count, elevated neutrophil count or highly elevated neutrophil count, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Neutropenia

Neutropenia also suggests the following possibilities:

Chemotherapy Side-Effects

The most common reason that cancer patients experience neutropenia is as a side-effect of chemotherapy.  Chemotherapy-induced neutropenia typically occurs 3-7 days following administration of the chemotherapy drugs and continues for several days before recovering to normal levels.  Infrequently, cancer patients may also experience neutropenia from other medications or as a consequence of their underlying cancer.

Leukemia

Leukemia causes decreased production of neutrophils because they are crowded out of the bone marrow by the early forms of white blood cells.

Myelodysplastic Syndrome

The most common type of granulocyte (white blood cell with granules) in bone marrow is the neutrophil.  In cases of Myelodysplastic Syndrome, the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow become abnormal, often leading to Neutropenia (a low number of neutrophils in the blood.)

Radiation Poisoning

Radiation therapy or exposure can damage the bone marrow.

Sepsis

Neutropenia can be caused by widespread, severe bacterial infection that causes pus formation or bacteria in the blood, which in turn leads to increased destruction of neutrophils.

Neutrophilia

Neutrophilia also suggests the following possibilities:

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)

Chronic myelocytic leukemia is a myeloproliferative disorder that causes proliferation of bone marrow cells.

Essential Thrombocythemia

Essential thrombocythemia is a myeloproliferative disorder that causes proliferation of bone marrow cells.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases can cause neutrophilia.

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