Definition

A neutropenic fever is a temperature over 100.4°F (38°C) in a person with neutropenia. Neutropenia is when you have a low number of neutrophils in the blood. This is a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections.

White Blood Cells

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Causes

The fever is caused by an infection.

Too few neutrophils can have a number of causes. They range from viral infections to certain medicines. It is common in people who are being treated for cancer.

Risk Factors

Having neutropenia raises the chance of infection.

It is more common in older adults.

Other things that may raise your risk are:

  • Uncontrolled cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Liver or kidney problems

Symptoms

The main sign is a fever over 100.4°F (38°C). In some cases, it may be the only sign.

You may also have chills and sweating.

The infection may cause other problems. A urinary tract infection or lung infection will have their own signs.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Your blood may be tested.

You may have more tests to find the cause of your infection.

Treatment

You will be treated right away. If not, your life may be at risk.

You will be given antibiotics. Other medicines may be given to treat the type of infection you have.

Tests to find the cause of your infection can take a few days. Your medicine may be changed based on the results.

Prevention

Some people with this health problem are at high risk for infection. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help stop them before they happen.

Other steps are:

  • Practicing good hand washing
  • Staying away from people who are sick
  • Getting flu and pneumonia vaccines on time