Leukopenia (low white blood cell count)

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Overview

Leukopenia is a condition in which a person’s white blood cells are less than they should be in their circulation. CBC is used to identify leukopenia.

A normal WBC count ranges between 3,500 and 11,000 WBCs per microliter of blood in a healthy person. A person suffering from leukopenia may have less than 3,500 WBCs per microliter of blood in their bloodstream.

WBCs, which are essential for the immune system, are produced in the bone marrow. When there are too few of them, the body’s ability to fight against infections and illnesses is compromised.

Leukocytes are among the several kinds of blood cells that make up the blood. WBCs are a vital component of the immune system since they aid the body in its battle against illnesses and infections.

Reduced numbers of disease-fighting WBCs in the blood (leukopenia) indicate that you are suffering from a virus or other infection.

The majority of the time, you will not notice any indicators of leukopenia. However, if your WBCs are really low, you may be showing indications of infection, such as:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating

Inquire with your doctor about what to look out for. If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, consult the doctor immediately.

In most cases, a low white blood cell count is discovered when the doctor requests testing for an illness that the person is already suffering from. Consult with your doctor about the significance of the test findings. A low WBC count, in conjunction with the findings of other tests, may already be able to pinpoint the source of the disease. Alternatively, the doctor may recommend further tests to better evaluate the situation.

Due to the fact that having a chronically extremely low WBC count makes you more susceptible to infections, see your doctor about preventative measures to avoid contracting infectious illnesses.

Causes

WBCs are produced in bone marrow, which is a spongy substance that can be found within the bigger bones. Viral infections that cause the bone marrow to temporarily halt its function may result in low production of WBCs. certain bone marrow abnormalities that manifest themselves at birth (congenital) and include impaired bone marrow function are also associated with low WBC count. Examples include cancer and other disorders that affect the bone marrow.

The following are the causes of low WBC count:

Viral Infections

Transient leukopenia may be caused by acute viral infections like influenza and cold. A viral infection may damage a person’s bone marrow’s ability to produce WBCs thus resulting in low WBC count.

Bone marrow conditions

Leukopenia is a condition that may be caused by a number of different blood cells as well as bone marrow abnormalities. Examples of such disorders include an overactive spleen, myelodysplastic syndrome and aplastic anemia.

Cancer

Leukemia and other tumors may cause bone marrow destruction, which can result in leukopenia i.e. low white blood cell count.

Autoimmune illnesses

Some of these conditions cause WBCs to be destroyed. Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus are two examples of autoimmune diseases causing low WBC count.

Congenital diseases

Infections caused by birth defects, often known as congenital diseases, may result in leukopenia. Myelokathexis and Kostmann syndrome are two examples of such conditions linked with low WBC.

Sarcoidosis

It is an immune system overreaction that causes tiny pockets of inflammation throughout the body. It is caused by a bacterial infection. It may also have an effect on the bone marrow.

Malnutrition

Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals may cause leukopenia to develop. Deficits in folate, copper, zinc, and vitamin B-12, are examples of such deficiencies.

Therapy and Medicines

A person’s WBC count can be reduced as a result of cancer therapy. Following are the examples that affect the WBC count:

Radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplantation

Moreover, the quantity of WBCs in a person’s blood can be reduced due to the use of certain drugs like steroids, immunosuppressants and interferons. Antibiotics and other medications can also cause WBCs to be destroyed

When To See A Doctor

If you are aware that you have a medical condition or are taking medicine that might impair your body’s capacity to fight infections, you should speak with your doctor about steps you can take to prevent a serious infection from occurring.

If your white blood cell count is low and you suspect you may have an infection, call your healthcare professional as soon as possible.

If you encounter any of the following symptoms, call your doctor or get treatment right away:

  • Fever
  • Difficult breathing
  • Extreme sluggishness
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Confusion