Meaning Of Low White Blood Cell Count – Leukemia (from Greek λευκός (leukos) ‘white’ and πενία (pia) ‘lack’) is a decrease in the number of white blood cells (WBC). Found in the blood, they are white blood cells and are the body’s primary defense against infection. Thus, the leukocytic state places individuals at increased risk of infection.
Neutropia, a subtype of leukopenia, refers to a decrease in the number of circulating neutrophil granulocytes, the most common white blood cells. The terms leukopenia and neutropenia may occasionally be used interchangeably, as the neutrophil count is the most important indicator of infection risk. Agranulocytosis is an acute form of neutropenia.
- 1 Meaning Of Low White Blood Cell Count
- 2 Evaluation Of Patients With Leukocytosis
- 3 What It Means When Your White Blood Cell Count Is Low
Meaning Of Low White Blood Cell Count
A low white blood cell count can be the result of acute viral infections such as a cold or flu. It has been linked to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, myelofibrosis, aplastic anemia (failure to produce white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets), stem cell transplants, bone marrow transplants, HIV, AIDS, and steroid use.
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Other causes of low white blood cell counts include systemic lupus erythematosus, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, certain cancers, typhoid, malaria, tuberculosis, dengue, rickettsial infections, enlarged spleen, folate deficiency, psittacosis, sepsis, Sjögro’s syndrome, and Lyme disease. It has also been shown to be caused by a deficiency of certain minerals such as copper and zinc.
Pseudoleukopenia can develop with the onset of infection. Leukocytes (primarily neutrophils, which are the first to respond to injury) begin to migrate toward the site of infection, where they can be scanned. Their migration causes the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells to fight the infection and to restore leukocytes in the circulation, but because the blood sample is taken when the infection occurs, it contains a small amount of white blood cells, so it is called “pseudoleukemia”. “.
Drugs that can cause leukopenia include clozapine, an antipsychotic drug with a rare side effect that causes complete abscessation of all granulocytes (neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils). The antidepressant and smoking cessation drug bupropion HCl (Wellbutrin) can also cause leukopenia with long-term use. Minocycline, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, is another drug known to cause leukopenia. There have also been reports of leukopenia caused by divalproex sodium or valproic acid (Depakote), a drug used for epilepsy (seizures), mania (with bipolar disorder), and migraine.
The FDA monograph for metronidazole states that this drug can also cause leukopenia, and the prescriber information suggests a complete blood count, including a differential cell count, before and after, especially high-dose therapy.
Evaluation Of Patients With Leukocytosis
Immunosuppressive drugs such as sirolimus, mycofolate mofetil, tacrolimus, cyclosporine, leflunomide, and TNF inhibitors have leukocytopenia as a known complication.
Chemotherapy targets fast-growing cells such as tumors, but it can also affect white blood cells because bone marrow has a tendency to grow quickly.
A common side effect of cancer treatment is neutropenia, a decrease in neutrophils (a specific type of white blood cell).
A percentile of 2.5 (the right bounds in the intervals in the figure showing the 95% prediction intervals) is a common cutoff for defining leukocytosis. DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My 16-year-old granddaughter was recently diagnosed with a low white blood cell count after visiting the ER twice with migraine headaches, vomiting, and temporary vision loss. What could cause a low white blood cell count in someone her age? I am concerned that it is something serious and am wondering what other tests should be done.
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ANSWER: Many diseases and conditions can cause a low white blood cell count. Without more information, it is difficult to say what the specific cause of your granddaughter’s situation might be. It is unlikely that the low number is related to her migraines and other symptoms. It would be wise to do another blood test to see if the problem is still occurring. Her doctor can then decide if she needs further evaluation.
Blood has many components. In addition to white blood cells that fight infection, red blood cells carry oxygen, and platelets help blood clot. Bone marrow, the spongy tissue in bones, makes blood cells.
There are several types of white blood cells. Neutrophils fight fungal and bacterial infections. Lymphocytes protect the body against viral infections. Monocytes help get rid of dead or damaged tissue and regulate the body’s immune response. Eosinophils are white blood cells that fight disease. Basophils play a role in wound healing, infections and allergic reactions.
One of the most common causes of a low white blood cell count is a viral infection. These infections can sometimes temporarily disrupt the production of blood cells in the bone marrow, so the number of blood cells decreases. The count usually returns as the body recovers from the infection. In most people, this temporary drop in blood cells has no long-term effect.
What It Means When Your White Blood Cell Count Is Low
Some medications can also cause low white blood cell counts because they can destroy white blood cells or damage the bone marrow. For example, taking antibiotics can sometimes cause an abnormal drop in neutrophils, a condition known as neutropenia. With this in mind, it would be helpful for your granddaughter’s doctor to review any medications she is taking to see if they could be causing changes in her blood cell count.
A variety of other conditions and disorders can also cause neutropenia. For an overview of this condition and more details on how it is diagnosed and treated, you can watch the Mayo Clinic video.
The list of other possible causes of a drop in white blood cell count is long. Autoimmune disorders, congenital disorders that affect bone marrow function, spleen disorders, certain infectious diseases, cancer, and parasitic diseases, among others, can cause low white blood cell counts.
A good next step for your granddaughter would be to have a complete blood count. This test measures components in the blood. The specific type of white blood cell that this test shows is low in your granddaughter, as well as the results of other blood component measurements, can help shed light on what might be causing the decrease.
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The other symptoms you mention—headache, vision loss, and vomiting—also need to be addressed with a physical exam, a review of your granddaughter’s family and medical history, and any additional tests your doctor may recommend. Even if these symptoms are not related to a decrease in the number of white blood cells, it is important to investigate and determine their underlying cause. – Carola Arndt, MD, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
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DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am writing because I am in a difficult situation. A close friend weathered Hurricane Ian in Florida last year and … Leukocytes, or white blood cells, are made in your bone marrow and are responsible for fighting infectious pathogens. Every day, the human body creates more than a million white blood cells, which recognize various pathogens and prepare to fight them. If you experience any kind of inflammation, it means that the white blood cells in your body are working hard to get rid of the infection. If you often experience colds, this may be a sign of a low white blood cell count in your body. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we will look at the different types of white blood cells in your body and some home remedies that will help you increase your white blood cell count. Scroll down for more information on how to increase your white blood cell count!
What Does A High White Blood Cell Count (leukocytosis) Mean?
The number of leukocytes in the blood is an indicator of the disease. Therefore, the white blood cell count is an important component of a complete blood count.
White blood cells are the body’s first line of defense against infection. They protect our body from infection by fighting bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other foreign invaders. These cells also facilitate the production of antibodies and help destroy infectious agents and cancer cells.
Fluctuations in the number of white blood cells can occur for a number of reasons. You may notice an increase in your white blood cell count during exercise, while the number may drop during rest.
Pregnancy and childbirth are two important periods of life where you can see fluctuations in your white blood cell count. A 2021 study in eBioMedicine observed a pattern in typical white blood cell counts during the first week after birth, depending on the mode of delivery. After childbirth, the number of white blood cells significantly decreases and reaches a stationary level. Elective delivery by caesarean section showed the greatest decline, and emergency delivery by caesarean section showed the least. See the chart below for additional information.
What Does A Low White Blood Count Mean?
However, in some cases the number may drop abnormally. There may be various factors at play, discussed below.
White blood cells are made in the bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside some of your larger bones. A decrease in the WBC count can be caused by the following:
A low WBC count that is ineffective in fighting infection causes the condition
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