Low white blood cell count : causes, symptoms, treatment, precautions

Low white blood cell count

The decrease in the number of white blood cells than normal level is called as low white blood cell count. Leukopenia is the medical term used for low white blood cell count. White blood cells as the components of blood circulates throughout the body and fights against infection, while provides immunity to the body. Children are the more sufferers from this disorder than elder ones.

The white blood cells plays a major role in providing resistance to body. The main component of immune system of human body is white blood cells. When the white blood cells the resistance power of body is reduced and the individual can’t fight against infection. The individual is prone to have recurrent infections which stays for long time. AIDS patients have low white blood cell count and reduced lymphocytes and that is why they will have severe infections.

The inflammatory symptoms such as redness, swelling, pus formation, cough, fever etc develops very poor or may these inflammatory reactions are absent in patients with low white blood cell count as there is no enough white blood cell count to fight against foreign bodies. So seek medical medical help for even small discomfort or infection.

Neutropenia is the term used to indicate decreased number of neutrophils, the component of white blood cell, which leads to low white blood cell count.

The normal range of white blood cell count  in body is 7000 to 11000 cells per cubic mm of blood. The low white blood cell count  less than 5000 cells per Cm can be said as low white blood cell count. The low white blood cell count may vary from medical institutions to institutions. A low white blood cell count in children is not similar to elders and different according to age group. Leukopenia is  also called as low white blood count.

The white blood cells have different component cells which also determines the low white blood cell count. Decrease in any one of component cell also leads to low white blood cell count. The laboratory test determines the number of cells in the given blood sample.

Normal white blood count in adults

  • Total white blood count – 4000 to 11ooo / UL
  • Lymphocytes  – 22 to 44 %
  • Monocytes  – 0 to 8 %
  • Neutrophils  – 40 to 70 %
  • Eosinophils  – 0 to 4 %
  • Basophils  – 0 to 1 %

Causes of low white blood cell count

  • Altered bone marrow function  because of Viral infections,
  • Congenital disorders which diminishes bone marrow function
  • Metastatic cancer and other illness that damages bone marrow
  • Autoimmune disorders which destroys bone marrow cells
  • suppressed immunity due to recurrent infections
  • Some medications also causes low white blood cell count by inhibiting  white blood cells or damaging bone marrow

Specific causes of low white blood cell count

  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Chemotherapy for treatment of cancer,
  • Steroids such as prednisone,
  • Use of medications such as  antibiotics, diuretics
  • Immune deficiency disorder
  • HIV infection
  • Destruction of blood cells by spleen
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Infectious diseases
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Kostmann syndrome, a congenital disorder with low neutrophil production
  • Myelokathexis, a congenital in which  neutrophils fails to enter blood stream form production site.
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Radiation therapy
  • Vitamin deficiency disorders

Facts about low white blood cell count

The low white blood cell count is  found when the laboratory test is suggested by your doctor and test results gives the exact level of low white blood count level in blood or individuals body. The laboratory results gives clear picture about the percentage of low white blood count and this helps the physician to treat the condition and to take any measures needed. Low white blood count is the clear indicator of decreased immune level in the body and the individual is prone to have recurrent infections. Further diagnostic tests such as x – ray, ultrasound scan, bone marrow aspiration, biopsy  are done to assess the condition of spleen and bone marrow. The low white blood count commonly occurs as a side effect of chemotherapy given to cancer patients.

Precautions to prevent infection

The patients with low white blood count should follow the precautionary measures to prevent infection by wearing face masks, avoiding contact with infected person, beware of contagious or communicable diseases, etc. Use face mask to avoid transmission of infection through nose and upper respiratory tract.  practice hygienic measures to prevent infection and protect health.

When to contact  a doctor  about low white blood count ?

  • An elevated  temperature greater than 100.4°F.  you can check temperature with  the help of thermometer.
  • Sudden and recurrent Chills (rigors) or body shakes,
  • Sudden onset of  pain with unknown cause,

When you experience all these symptoms with known low white blood count, contact doctor immediately.

If you experience symptoms such as

  • Sore throat
  • mouth Sores
  • A white patches in  mouth,
  • tongue lesions
  • Signs of a urinary bladder infection  such as
  • painful urination or burning sensation,
  • red blood cells in urine
  • frequent urination than normal

along with decreased or low white blood count, is better to seek medical help as soon as possible to prevent any complications.

Treatment of low white blood count

Low white blood count is treated by relieving from the actual causes. The careful diagnosis helps in assessment of disease condition and treatment is given as per requirement. The medial research  indicates that some foods and food components helps controlling low white blood cell count.

The doctor will prescribe the medications such as

  • Filgrastim
  • Pegfilgrastim
  • Sargramostim

after each cycle of chemotherapy in order to prevent low white blood cell count  for prolonged time. The prophylactic  antimicrobial medications such as Sulfamethoxazole – trimethoprim,   Fluconazole,  Itraconazole   are prescribed to prevent specific infections which occurs with weaken immune system or low white blood count (associated with chemotherapy).

Some  specific foods such as  garlic, foods high in zinc such as oysters, pot roast, dark meat turkey and pumpkin and squash seeds are helpful in boosting immune system of the body and these foods intake reduces the risks of low white blood count. Fruits and vegetables are good for health and stimulates production of antibodies and gives resistance to body. Multivitamin intake is very beneficial with this disord

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