What is Low WBC Count?

What is Low WBC Count?

White blood cells, also known as leukocytes, make up less than 1% of your blood cells but are essential for protecting the body against disease. These are cells that protect the body against viruses and bacteria. A low WBC count may indicate a number of disorders related to the blood and bone marrow. Having a low blood cell count is also called leukopenia. This condition is usually diagnosed after your doctor orders a blood test. It is sometimes discovered incidentally.

What is Low WBC Count?

A low white blood cell count is also called leukopenia or leukocytopenia. The white blood cell count varies from person to person. So how dangerous is decreased WBC’s? The normal value of leukocytes is between 4,000-10,000 in a cubic millimeter of blood. If the blood test reveals a value lower than 4,000, it indicates decreased WBC count. So, is WBC count of 3.8 normal? The normal WBC count in the blood is between 4,500 and 11,000 WBCs. Normal ranges of values ​​may differ slightly between laboratories.

What Causes Low WBC?

“What causes low WBC?” If you are wondering, here is the answer to this question:

Low white blood cell counts are usually caused by problems in the bone marrow where they are made. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside the bones that is responsible for making most of the body's blood cells. Certain types of cancer such as leukemia, and treatments such as chemotherapy can damage the bone marrow's ability to produce white blood cells, and low white blood cell count may occur with chemotherapy. Chemicals such as benzene and some pesticides can also damage the bone marrow.

Another common cause of low WBC count is infection. An infection can affect the bone marrow and make it harder for the body to produce white blood cells. Also, even if the body is increased in response when fighting a particularly severe infection, the rate of white cell production may not keep up with the rate at which white blood cells are consumed to fight disease.

Other causes of leukopenia include autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which cause the body to attack its own white blood cells. Vitamin deficiency, excessive alcohol consumption, and general malnutrition can also lower white blood cell counts.

The causes of low WBC are as follows:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cancer
  • Cancer treatments (including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and bone marrow transplant)
  • Congenital anomalies
  • Infectious diseases / severe infections
  • Medications
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Viral infections
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
  • Malnutrition
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Stem cell or bone marrow transplant

Infection is also among the causes of low WBC in infants.

What are the Symptoms of Low WBC Count?

“What is low WBC count?” As well as the question, the potential symptoms are also wondered. Abnormally low levels of white blood cells can lead to a higher risk of infection of any type. A low white cell count itself does not directly lead to any symptoms, but a patient who is immunocompromised as a result of significant leukopenia and subsequently develops an infection may experience symptoms such as fever, local pain, fatigue, myalgia, loss of appetite, and general malaise.

What Are the Risks of Having Low WBC count?

One of the most important risks of leukopenia (low WBC count) is that the person becomes vulnerable to infections. Without enough white blood cells to fight the infection, the body is at risk of developing  serious illness or death even just from a mild infection.

The risk of infection is an even greater concern for a patient whose immunity is already compromised for any reason. An example of this is the low neutrophil count (neutrophils are a type of white blood cell involved in fighting bacterial infections) caused by the effect of cancer chemotherapy on the bone marrow. In this situation, treatments may need to be rescheduled to allow for white cell count to be restored, and medications may be given to stimulate the growth of neutrophils to help maintain adequate levels.

“How many WBC’s is considered leukemia?” The question can be answered as follows: 4500-11000 mm3=µm WBC is normal in a micrometer of blood. However, 10 times the mentioned normal range of WBC count is dangerous. Since this value is 190,000 WBC leukocytes for adults, this is a sign of leukemia.

What to Do for Low WBC Count

While there is no way to avoid leukopenia and symptoms of low white blood cell count, there are a few things patients can do to protect themselves when their white blood cell counts are low. These include:

  • Adequate nutrition
  • Avoiding contact with microbes
  • Avoiding injuries, cuts and scrapes
  • Lots of rest
  • Proper hand washing (using soap and water or hand sanitizer throughout the day)

So how to increase WBC count? Some quality sources of protein are fish, eggs, poultry, beef, milk, yogurt and beans. If your diet is poor or you have trouble eating, you can take one of the multivitamin, vitamin B12 and folate supplements after consulting your doctor. That's because the body uses vitamin B12 and folate to produce WBC.

Low WBC Count Treatment

“How to treat low WBC count?” The question is also among the wondered ones. Treatment for leukopenia usually depends on what's causing it and the type of white blood cell affected. Other treatments may be needed to resolve some infections caused by low white blood cell counts. Treatment for low WBC count includes:

Pharmacological drug thrapy

Certain medications can be used to stimulate the body to produce more blood cells. Treating the cause of the low white blood cell count is also an effective approach to solving the problem of leukopenia.

Discontinuation of treatments causing leukopenia

The body must be given time to produce more blood cells, especially during treatments such as chemotherapy. Blood cell counts usually increase after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. However, the time it takes for WBCs to increase in specific amounts still varies from patient to patient.

Growth factors

The body produces proteins called growth factors. Some of these growth factors force the bone marrow to produce blood cells. A type of growth factor called granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) enables the bone marrow to produce WBC’s to minimize the risk of developing infections after cancer treatment.


A neutropenic diet may be recommended when there is low WBC count. This type of diet is also called an immunocompromised diet. Because it is for people with weakened immune systems. This diet can help protect immunocompromised patients against harmful microorganisms found in certain types of foods and beverages.

What Can Be Done For Low WBC Count At Home?

Apart from the treatment of low WBC count, some precautions should be taken in routine life. Here are some tips that can help you feel better at home and prevent infections when it comes to low WBC count:

  • Get enough rest.
  • Balanced diet.
  • Take good care of cuts and scrapes.
  • Avoid germs.
  • Pay attention to general hygiene.


How Is Leukopenia Treated?

Answer: After the root cause of leukopenia is determined, appropriate treatment measures will be taken. If the cause of low WBC count is determined to be a potent drug for the treatment of blood-related cancers such as leukemia, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and bone marrow stem cell transplant, the treatment will be temporarily stopped to help increase the concentration of white blood cells. The doctor also strongly recommends getting enough rest and avoiding injuries, following a diet rich in essential nutrients and immunity stimulants. Bruises can cause further blood loss. These lifestyle changes help people with leukopenia recover faster, return to normal levels of white blood cells, and get complete relief from fever and other bothersome symptoms.


What Are Other Causes of Leukopenia?

Answer: Other causes of low white blood cell counts include systemic lupus erythematosus, Hodgkin lymphoma, certain cancers, typhoid fever, malaria, tuberculosis, dengue fever, rickettsia infection, splenomegaly, folic acid deficiency, psittacosis, sepsis, dryness syndrome, and Lyme disease. It has also been proven to be caused by a deficiency of certain minerals such as copper and zinc. Pseudo Leukocytopenia may occur early in the infection. White blood cells, mostly neutrophils, are the first to respond to damage and begin to migrate to the site of infection where they perform surveillance. Its migration causes the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells to fight infection and restore circulating white blood cells, but because blood samples collected at the onset of infection contain few white blood cells, false positive results may be obtained.

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