Deficiency of granular leucocytes, a particular kind of white blood cell so-called because under the microscope they seem to contain white granules. Their function is to remove harmful bacteria, and agranulocytosis reduces the body’s defences against bacteria. The condition can occur for no known reason as an allergic reaction to particular medicines, such as certain remedies for rheumatism, some antibiotics and various treatments for goitre. The label on the particular medicine should always indicate that it may cause agranulocytosis. Symptoms of the complaint are usually sudden high fever, sore throat, ulcers in the mouth or the mucous membrane of vagina and anus. Restriction of the immune mechanism can lead to the development of serious infectious diseases, such as pneumonia. The lymph nodes should take over part of the immune function of the absent leucocytes, which can lead to their swelling. Diagnosis is by a blood test showing the deficiency in white blood cells. Other diseases which can cause such a shortage are leukemia and aplastic anaemia. Treatment is by ceasing the medication which caused the condition, when the body will start to replace the absent cells. This takes 7 to 10 days, during which time antibiotics may be used as a protection against infection.

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