Symptoms of agranulocytosis
As a rule, agranulocytosis leads to a reduction in general well-being with a severe feeling of illness (fatigue, headaches, malaise, muscle pain). Chills, fever, nausea and palpitations (tachycardia) can also occur. Since the immune defence is weakened by the drastic drop in granulocytes, pathogens such as parasites, bacteria or fungi can no longer be adequately combated.
The consequences are inflammations and infections in many parts of the body. In the further course of the disease, tonsillitis (angina tonsillaris) and oral thrush (stomatitis aphthosa) may occur. The three typical clinical signs of agranulocytosis are fever, tonsillitis and mouth rot.
How is agranulocytosis treated?
Since in most cases agranulocytosis is caused by drug side effects, a potentially causal drug must first be identified and stopped by the doctor as soon as possible. However, there is also the possibility that no triggering drug can be found. In these cases, but also in case of a side effect of a drug, a stimulation therapy for granulocyte production should be carried out.
Here, there is the possibility of administering a so-called granulocyte growth factor (e.g. granulocyte colony stimulating factor = G-CSF). This growth factor is a hormone which is normally also released by the body during inflammation and accelerates the formation of defence cells (granulocytes). In addition, anti-infective therapies should be initiated, as the immune system is very weakened by the lack of granulocytes and infections often occur.
First of all, medical education is of great importance when prescribing drugs potentially causing agranulocytosis. In addition, patients should be informed that after a previous history of agranulocytosis, a new drop in blood granulocytes is possible or likely when taking certain drugs. Good hygiene measures in the throat and oral cavity and in the anal region, as well as avoiding sick and many people, can reduce or even partially prevent infections during an existing agranulocytosis.
Depending on the underlying cause of agranulocytosis, the prognosis may vary. However, it can be said that the acute phase of agranulocytosis is the most complicated and dangerous time.