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Infection risk and neutropenia

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Common questions about neutropenia

Neutropenia is condition in which you have a low number of white blood cells called neutrophils in your blood.

When you have low levels of neutrophils in your blood, your immune system is weakened, making it harder for your body to fight infection.

Explore the answers to common questions about neutropenia below.

Your healthcare team will be able to advise you on how long you follow these guidelines for, as this will vary from person to person.

See our information about neutropenic diets and who might need to follow one.

Wash all surfaces, cutlery and cooking utensils thoroughly with warm water and a detergent which kills bacteria. You don’t need to use a steriliser to wash your cutlery.

Read more about managing your risk of infection.

If you’re severely neutropenic, barbecues, picnics and buffets are not recommended. This is because there’s a high risk of bacteria spreading between foods.

Read more about food safety.

If you have severe neutropenia it’s advised to avoid all unpeeled fruits, vegetables and salad items, including all fresh garnishes. However, cooked vegetables and fruit will be safe to eat. It’s also safe to buy and eat frozen and tinned vegetables or fruits.

Read more about neutropenic diet guidelines for people with severe neutropenia

If you have severe neutropenia, you should avoid alcohol, as alcohol can affect your neutrophils’ ability to fight infection. Otherwise, check with your doctor.

If you’re able to eat a variety of foods you probably don’t need to take vitamin or mineral supplements. However, if your appetite is poor then you may need a supplement to meet your daily requirements. It’s important to remember that some vitamins and minerals can be harmful when taken in high doses and can react with some medications and cancer treatments. Ask your dietitian, doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking any supplements.

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We're here for you if you want to talk

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