A low white blood cell count, also known as Leukopenia, refers to a decreased number of white blood cells in the body. White blood cells, also called leukocytes, are a part of the immune system. There are five major types of white blood cells include Lymphocytes, Neutrophils, Monocytes, Eosinophils, and Basophils. Our body produces about 100 billion white blood cells every day. They can help identify invaders and fight bacteria, viruses, and other germs.
What is a low white blood cell count? Although the number of white blood cells varies from person to person, the normal range is usually between 4,000 and 10,000 per microliter of blood. A WBC count of less than 4,000 per microliter (3,500 or 4,500 in some laboratories) represents A low white blood cell count.
Of course, the WBC count also varies with age and gender, and some people naturally have a low WBC count. However, long-term low white blood cell count indicates that your body may not be able to fight infection effectively.
Signs and Symptoms of Low White Blood Cell Count
A low white blood cell count may be accompanied by other symptoms, indicating an underlying disease. In some cases, patients may experience fever, anemia, irritability, weakness, fatigue, chills, shortness of breath, and local swelling.
In addition, gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections are common symptoms, including sore throat, headache, stomach cramps, mouth ulcers, diarrhea, and burning sensation during urination. If you experience fever, vomiting, skin damage, or swollen lymph nodes, seek immediate medical attention.
Complications of Low White Blood Cell Count
When your white blood cell count is low, your body’s ability to resist external invaders will decrease. This can lead to infections or other diseases in the body. These diseases are potential complications.
Common complications of low WBC counts include fungal infections, parasitic diseases, pneumonia, sepsis, and Staphylococcus aureus infections. An infection may cause life-threatening effects such as organ failure and septic shock in some cases.
Does a low white blood count always mean cancer?
No, a low white blood count does not always mean cancer. While cancer can sometimes cause a decrease in white blood cells, there are many other potential causes of low white blood cell counts. These can include infection, bone marrow problems, certain medications, and autoimmune disorders. If you have a low white blood cell count, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the cause and get appropriate treatment.
8 Common Causes of Low White Blood Cell Count(Leukopenia)
Common causes of low white blood cell counts include:
Virus invasion can cause infection and cause a decrease in white blood cells. Severe conditions can affect the hematopoietic function of your bone marrow. This causes white blood cells to be slower than the body consumes them. In addition, some viruses, such as HIV, also kill a specific type of white blood cell, resulting in Leukopenia.
2. Bone marrow disease or injury
Bone marrow is the blood-forming tissue in the body. Certain types of cancer, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and exposure to certain chemicals can damage the blood-forming function of the bone marrow. These problems can lead to Leukopenia.
Malnutrition can lead to low levels of specific vitamins such as B12 and folic acid in the body. This will affect your body’s synthesis of white blood cells, resulting in Leukopenia. In addition, long-term alcohol abuse can also lead to the loss of nutrients in your body and cause malnutrition.
4. Certain drugs
Some drugs destroy white blood cells and cause low white blood cell counts. These drugs include antibiotics, antihistamines, anticonvulsants, chemotherapy drugs, sulfonamides, and antithyroid drugs.
5. Spleen problems
In addition to bone marrow, the spleen also produces white blood cells. Some spleen problems such as infections, blood clots, and splenic swelling usually cause the spleen method to work and affect the production of white blood cells.
6. Autoimmune diseases
Some autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can attack the white blood cells in the body. This can lead to low white blood cell counts.
7. Liver Disease
Some livers such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure can also cause low white blood cell counts.
In some cases, the cause of Leukopenia cannot be found, which may be related to genetic factors. Other causes include radiation exposure, aplastic anemia, Crohn’s disease, etc.
Medical Treatment for Leukopenia
Common treatments for Leukopenia include filgrastim and polyethylene glycol filgrastim. These drugs contain “growth factors” that help increase the production of white blood cells. However, these drugs also have some side effects such as chills, fever, bone pain, redness, and itching of the skin. In addition, in some sporadic cases, blood transfusions can also help improve low white blood cell count.
What You Can Do to Prevent Leukopenia
You can also do some simple things on your own to help improve low white blood cell count:
- Try to stay away from some virus-infected people. Avoid drug use; practice safe sex to prevent HIV.
- Avoid taking public transportation or going to crowded places because people with weakened immune systems are prone to various infections.
- Cook thoroughly before eating to eliminate viruses and bacteria. Develop good hygiene habits, such as washing hands before meals.
- Follow a balanced diet because the body needs essential vitamins and nutrients to help strengthen the immune system.
- Take some vitamins such as B12 and folic acid and get plenty of rest to help restore blood cell count.
- Avoid injuries because even minor injuries can cause serious infections. Be careful when shaving and brushing your teeth.
- Read the instructions or consult a doctor before taking certain medications. If adverse drug reactions occur, seek medical help in time.