The decrease in the number of white blood cells than the 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 circulate throughout the body and fight against infection, while provides immunity to the body. Children are more sufferers from this disorder than elder ones.
The white blood cells play a major role in providing resistance to the body. The main component of the immune system of the human body is white blood cells. When the white blood cells the resistance power of the body is reduced and the individual can’t fight against infection. The individual is prone to have recurrent infections that stay for a 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 develop 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 help for even small discomfort or infection.
Neutropenia is the term used to indicate a 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 the body is 7000 to 11000 cells per cubic mm of blood. The low white blood cell count of fewer than 5000 cells per Cm can be said as a 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 a low white blood count.
The white blood cells have different component cells which also determines the low white blood cell count. The decrease in any one of the component cells also leads to low white blood cell count. The laboratory test determines the number of cells in the given blood sample.
Prevalence of and risk factors for leukopenia in tuberculosis patients
Multivariate Logistic regression analysis of factors affecting prevalence of leukopenia in newly treated tuberculosis patients
OR (95% CI)a
Degree of education
Below senior high school
Senior high school and above
Primary pulmonary tuberculosis
Secondary pulmonary tuberculosis
Other extrapulmonary tuberculosis
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 diminish bone marrow function
Metastatic cancer and other illness that damages bone marrow
Autoimmune disorders which destroy bone marrow cells
suppressed immunity due to recurrent infections
Some medications also cause low white blood cell count by inhibiting white blood cells or damaging the bone marrow
Specific causes of low white blood cell count
Severe allergic reactions
Chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer,
Steroids such as prednisone,
Use of medications such as antibiotics, diuretics
Immune deficiency disorder
Destruction of blood cells by the spleen
Kostmann syndrome, a congenital disorder with low neutrophil production
Myelokathexis, a congenital in which neutrophils fail to enter bloodstream-form the production site.
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 give the exact level of low white blood count level in blood or individuals body. The laboratory results give a clear picture of the percentage of low white blood count and this helps the physician to treat the condition and to take any measures needed. The low white blood count is a 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 an infected person, beware of contagious or communicable diseases, etc. Use a face mask to avoid transmission of infection through the 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 is greater than 100.4°F. you can check the temperature with the help of a 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 the doctor immediately.
If you experience symptoms such as
A white patches in the mouth,
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, it is better to seek medical help as soon as possible to prevent any complications.
Treatment of low white blood count
The Low white blood count is treated by relieving from the actual causes. The careful diagnosis helps in the assessment of disease condition and treatment is given as per requirement. The medical research indicates that some foods and food components help controlling low white blood cell count.
The doctor will prescribe the medications such as
after each cycle of chemotherapy in order to prevent low white blood cell count for a prolonged time. prophylactic antimicrobial medications such as Sulfamethoxazole – trimethoprim, Fluconazole, Itraconazole are prescribed to prevent specific infections that occur with weakening the 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 the 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 stimulate the production of antibodies and give resistance to the body. Multivitamin intake is very beneficial with this disorder