Neutropenia is a blood disorder, where the human body’s immunity levels are severely lowered due to the absence of neutrophils. Read on to learn the various precautions and steps, that need to be taken to handle or live with this disorder.
The cellular composition of blood is primarily divided into red blood cells and white blood cells. White blood cells (WBC’s) are the “watchmen” or “bodyguards” of the human body, they are the defense mechanism of the body against infection and the threat of disease. There are different types of WBC’s and one such type is neutrophils.
These WBC elements account for 50-70% of white blood cells present in flowing or circulating blood and hence, are the main “defenders” against infection. Imagine the consequences of less defenders, of little or no neutrophils. The body’s defense strength is lowered dramatically. An ordinary bacterial infection that is harmless or cause little grief to one man, could seriously injure or even kill a person with a low neutrophil count.
This sort of disorder, where the body’s neutrophil levels are dangerously low is called neutropenia. Individuals suffering from this disorder must follow certain precautionary measures and steps, to counter their vulnerability to disease. Read on to learn what precautions are necessary with neutropenia.
The very first step in taking precautions, is detecting or being aware of the risk towards being neutropenic or detecting the disorder based on signs and indicators. The following groups and activities can cause neutropenia.
- Patients with cancer and aplastic anemia, HIV and other immunity attacking diseases
- Genetic disposition where the neutropenia can be of 2 types, Kostmann syndrome and Cyclic neutropenia
- Exposure to radiation
- Deficiency of Vitamin B12 or copper
- Prolonged use of certain medications
If you fall under any of the above categories, you run the risk of being neutropenic. In addition, the following symptoms are some signs of neutropenia:
- Increase in body temperature
- Experiencing shaking chills and aches
- Feverish symptoms such as cough, pain in throat
- Burning sensation felt while urinating
- Diarrhea with a change in stool color
- Red, sore skin with some swelling
- Ulcers and infection in the mouth
➤ Check for a change in temperature daily. If you are feeling feverish or slightly ill, check your temperature immediately. A value greater than 100.9 Fahrenheit means it’s time to call your doctor.
➤ If you have been diagnosed with neutropenia, then schedule regular stool and urine tests and body checkups, to ensure that your condition is under control.
➤ Personal hygiene is very very important, wash your hands with soap and water at regular intervals. Bathe or shower everyday.
➤ Maintain a hygienic environment around you as well. Inform those close to you or those who work around you of your condition.
➤ Take maximum care to avoid getting cuts on the skin. Paper cuts, bruises, even shaving nicks are dangerous.
➤ For women going through their menstrual cycle, avoid tampons and use sanitary napkins.
➤ Take care of your teeth and mouth. Gargle with warm salt water and use mouth wash regularly. Brush with a soft toothbrush. Maintain a precise and very efficient oral care regime.
➤ Do not use suppositories or enemas or douches – in short, avoid any rectal or vaginal penetration.
➤ Existing wounds or cuts, dressings and bandages and IV or catheter sites are all danger zones of entry, keep them clean and dry and check them regularly to see if redness or swelling develops.
➤ Avoid pets or animals at close quarters or around your living area. Their feces, hair or fur can be very harmful to you.
➤ Stay way from people suffering from even the slightest of illnesses, like the common cold. You are very vulnerable to infection and can contract their disease.
➤ Avoid keeping potted plants and fresh flowers in your home or at close proximity. Do not touch soil at all.
➤ Try wearing a mask in crowded places or places with the risk of infection, like a hospital. Get a single-bed solitary room if you are kept overnight in the hospital.
➤ Avoid those who have been vaccinated or received shots recently.
➤ Try to perform minimum and low-risk activities. Avoid contact and very physical sports. Work out as much as you feel right, do not over-exert.
➤ Consult your doctor for medications, lifestyle practices (intercourse) and for any treatment such as dental work, to see if it will not harm you.
Culinary Neutropenic Precautions
Patients suffering from neutropenia have to follow a rigid and particular neutropenic diet plan. Dietary “Dos” and “Don’ts” include:
- Do not eat raw or uncooked vegetables and fruits.
- Eat cooked veggies. Fruits, which are canned or in the form of juice are fine.
- Junk or fast food should be avoided.
- Do not eat processed or delicatessen meats.
- You can eat canned meats like luncheon meat.
- Raw and shell roasted nuts should be avoided.
- Do not eat rare-cooked meat, eggs or fish or steaks.
- Do not eat eggs with runny yolks.
- Do not eat leftovers or long-time refrigerated foods.
- Drink water from clean sources. Boil if you doubt the safety of the water.
- Do not eat aged or mold-ripened or blue-veined cheeses such as Camembert, Stilton, Brie or Gorgonzola.
Following the correct neutropenic precautions and procedures in all daily activities and way of life, can greatly minimize the effects or impact of neutropenia. If a loved one or a close friend or anyone you know has neutropenia, then help them with small hygienic practices, such as washing your hands and staying away, when you are sick.