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):
  • Chediak-Higashi Syndrome
  • Gout
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Essential Thrombocythemia
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome
  • Hemolytic Anemia
  • Fanconi Anemia
  • Myelofibrosis

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:
variable duration morning stiffness
low lymphocyte count
Heberden's nodes
occasional unexplained fevers
high serum iron
macrocytic red cells
elevated basophil count
frequent morning stiffness
long term neck pain
drinking beer/wine/hard liquor
dry eyes
recent onset neck stiffness
... and more than 10 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
Myelofibrosis 98% Confirm
Myelodysplastic Syndrome 30% Unlikely
Essential Thrombocythemia 18% Unlikely
Gout 3% Ruled out
Hemolytic Anemia 3% Ruled out
Chediak-Higashi Syndrome 0% Ruled out
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 0% Ruled out
Fanconi Anemia 0% 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 also suggests the following possibilities:

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia reduces the bone marrow's ability to produce white blood cells.

Autoimmune Tendency

Autoimmune disease can cause chronic neutropenia.

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 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.


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 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.

Polycythemia Vera

Polycythemia vera is a myeloproliferative disorder that causes proliferation of bone marrow cells.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases can cause neutrophilia.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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