Neutropenia (noo-troe-PEE-nee-uh) occurs when you have too few neutrophils, a type of white blood cells. While all white blood cells help your body fight infections, neutrophils are important for fighting certain infections, especially those caused by bacteria.

You probably won't know that you have neutropenia. People often only find out when they've had blood tests done for other reasons.

A single blood test showing low levels of neutrophils doesn't necessarily mean you have neutropenia. These levels can vary from day to day, so if a blood test shows you have neutropenia, it needs to be repeated for confirmation.

Neutropenia can make you more vulnerable to infections. When neutropenia is severe, even the normal bacteria from your mouth and digestive tract can cause serious illness.

Get the latest health advice from Mayo Clinic delivered to your inbox.

Sign up for free, and stay up-to-date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expert advice on managing your health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information and to understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your e-mail and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic Patient, this could include Protected Health Information (PHI). If we combine this information with your PHI, we will treat all of that information as PHI, and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of e-mail communications at any time by clicking on the Unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Nov. 26, 2020