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What are Neutrophils?

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. They are produced by bone marrow and are the most common of all white blood cells (also known as leukocytes).  They can be found in the blood stream and like other types of leukocytes they are part of the immune system. This means that they help humans battle against any type of infection. If our body is ever attacked by bacteria or other unwanted guest it will be the neutrophils that act as the first line of defense. For that reason they are very important cells.

How Neutrophils Defend the Body

Neutrophils are a type of phagocytic cell and this means that they are able to eat other cells. This destruction of other cells by ingesting them kills the neutrophils but this is why our bone marrow produces so many of them. If an intruder invades our body, these white blood cells will arrive on the scene within an hour. The neutrophils don’t actually stay alive that long; in fact if we don’t use them within 10 hours they will just self-destruct.

If you look at pus the bulk of what you are looking at will be neutrophils; it is these that give the pus its white color. They might not look very attractive but he job they do keeps us alive. They know when to defend the body because they are alerted by chemical signals within the body.  Not only can the combat infections inside the cell but also outside them and on our skin. They manage to do this by producing a net of fibers called the neutrophil extracellular trap (NET). As they kill invaders the neutrophils produce a toxic chemical that can also kill other undesirables.

What Happens If We Don’t Have Enough Neutrophils?

Some people don’t have enough neutrophils and this can make life difficult.  It means that their immune system is compromised and so unable to do its job properly. This situation is referred to as neutropenia. Some people may be born with this type of problem or it can also be something that is acquired by a disease process such as leukemia or anemia. Those who are undergoing chemotherapy are at increased risk of neutropenia. The fact that these people have a weak immune system means that they are more susceptible to any opportunistic infection.

As well as not having enough neutrophils it can also occur that people have such cells that aren’t working properly. If this is the case then it could lead to the situation where these white blood cells actually start to attack the body. The immune system can overreact and cause damage to itself in the process.

Some Final Thoughts on Neutrophils

Neutrophils are a vital element of our immune system. Without them we would be open to every passing infection and would struggle to stay alive. The next time you see some pus escaping a wound you may want to be grateful that these cells have being doing such a superb job.

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What Is Blood Thinner?

Platelets and clots formationClots forming in the blood stream can be dangerous. They may block blood vessels and this can lead to a heart attack, or a cardiovascular accident (stroke). These clots appear in the blood stream due to too many platelets. Some people are more susceptible to blood clot formation and this is why they may require blood thinner medication.

Why Too Many Platelets Lead to Blood Clots

Platelets are needed for our survival. In fact if they fall too low we could bleed to death from even a small cut. The ability of platelets to form clots allows the body to repair broken tissue, but this ability is also potentially harmful if platelets build up and cause clots inside the body that can block blood vessels. It is vital that humans are able to have platelets at the right levels within the body because having them too high or too low can be dangerous.

What is Blood Thinner Medication?

This type of medication is also referred to as an anti-coagulant. There are many different examples of this type of drug but the most famous of all is Aspirin. It works by reducing the number of platelets in the blood stream and thus making it less likely for clots to occur. For a lot of people with coagulation problems the only medication they will ever require is half a tablet of Aspirin.

Aspirin is not going to be the most suitable anti-coagulant for everyone. In some cases it won’t be strong enough to do the work that is required. There can also be unwanted side effects with using this medication, and there are particular concerns when it is given regularly to children. Aspirin can cause Reye’s syndrome; a potentially fatal condition where different organs within the body are damaged.

There are many possible alternatives to Aspirin and probably the most famous of these is a drug called Wafarin. With this medication it is possible to constantly monitor the blood levels and adjust the Wafarin dosage in response to this. It is usual for the patient to be put on a regular dosage once the right combination is found. Those who take Wafarin are required to carry around a card that states that they are on this medication. If surgery or dental treatment is ever required it must be known that the individual is on this type of blood thinner. As well as Wafarin there are also a number of other new drugs available such as Plavix.

Safe Use of Blood Thinner Medication

It is important that anyone who uses blood thinner medication follows any instructions provided by their doctor. This drug could potentially cause problems if it is not used correctly. You should never make any changes to your anti coagulant therapy before first consulting your doctor. It is also not a good idea to start taking daily Aspirin unless you have been advised to do so by your health care professional. If you take this medication as prescribed though, it can greatly reduce your risk of clot related emergencies.