Home Symptoms Low White Blood Cell Count – Causes and Treatment

Low White Blood Cell Count – Causes and Treatment

white blood cellWhite blood cells are a critical component of the immune system, assisting the body in fighting sickness and infection. If you have an abnormally low number of white blood cells, this is referred to as leukopenia.

A white blood cell count of less than 4,000 white blood cells per microliter of blood is considered low in adults. This threshold changes according to age in children.

Types of White Blood Cells

White blood cells are critical components of the circulatory system. They are necessary for health and well-being because they fight illness. The types of white blood cells include:

  • Lymphocytes: These are vital for producing antibodies that help the body to defend itself against bacteria, viruses, and other threats.
  • Neutrophils: These are powerful white blood cells that destroy bacteria and fungi.
  • Basophils: These alert the body to infections by secreting chemicals into the bloodstream, mostly to combat allergies.
  • Eosinophils: These are responsible for destroying parasites and cancer cells, and they are part of an allergic response
  • Monocytes: These are responsible for attacking and breaking down germs or bacteria that enter the body.

Causes of Low White Blood Cell Count

If a person’s body contains an abnormally high or low number of white blood cells, this may indicate the presence of a problem. It is considered low to have a white blood cell count of fewer than 4,000 cells per microliter of blood. Occasionally, a low white blood cell count is a genetic disorder that may or may not be cause for concern. A low white blood cell count is connected with a number of diseases, including the following:

  • Cancer (caused by chemotherapy treatments)
  • Bone marrow disorders or damage
  • Autoimmune disorders (problems with the immune system in which the body attacks itself), such as lupus
  • Infections (including tuberculosis and HIV)
  • Immune system conditions
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Radiation treatments for cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Liver damage and/or enlarged spleen

Treatment of Low White Blood Cell Count

Treatment for leukopenia is determined by the type of white blood cell that is deficient and the underlying cause. You may require additional treatment to address any infections that occur as a result of a lack of white blood cells.

Medications can be used to encourage the production of new blood cells in the body. Alternatively, you may be offered medication to treat the underlying cause of the low cell count, such as antifungals for fungal infections or antibiotics for bacterial infections.

You may need to discontinue a treatment like chemotherapy to allow your body time to produce more blood cells. When a course of treatment, such as radiation, is completed or between chemotherapy sessions, your blood cell count may naturally increase. Bear in mind that the time required for white blood cells to restore differs by individual.

If white blood cell counts are extremely low, an immunocompromised diet, also known as a low-bacterial diet or neutropenic diet, may be prescribed. This diet is believed to decrease your risk of contracting germs from food or the way food is cooked.

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