Ways To Increase Wbcs During Chemotherapy
Ensuring youre eating a healthy diet with enough protein, vitamin B12, and folate is essential, so talk to your doctor or another medical professional on your care team about referring you to a dietitian.
The dietitian can discuss your diet and how to improve it to boost your immunity by eating enough calories, protein, and vitamin-rich foods. Still, theres no one thing you can eat or avoid eating to improve your white blood cell counts.
You should not start a supplement or vitamin without checking with your doctor or dietitian. Some vitamins and minerals can interfere with your treatment and make chemotherapy less effective.
What Causes White Blood Cells To Be Low
If your white blood cell count is slightly low, it may be a result of fatigue and stress. Typically, your body will resolve this on its own after some much-needed rest and nutrition. Your doctor may repeat a blood test just to be sure though.
When white blood cell count is too low it can no longer fight infection. This can result in a condition known as leukopenia. There are different types of leukopenia depending on which type of white blood cell youre low in. For example, if your blood is low in neutrophils, the type of leukopenia is known as neutropenia. Neutrophils are the white blood cells that protect you from bacteria and fungal infections.
Other conditions may produce a low white blood cell count. You may be on some medications or radiation therapy that can lower your amount of white blood cells. Your doctor will be monitoring you in those instances already.
A drastic result in low white blood count can be related to additional diseases such as cancer, liver disease, lupus, autoimmune disorders, HIV, lupus, and additional infections within your body.
Not every low white blood cell count is related to these diseases however, diseases are not to be excluded, and depending on the low range of your results, doctors will lead you in the right direction.
A drop in white blood cell count can also be as a result of the following:
- Viral infections
- Autoimmune disorders
- Congenital diseases
White Blood Cell Count Test
A white blood cell count is a test that measures the number of white blood cells in your body. It may also be called a leukocyte test. This test is often included with a complete blood count , which is commonly used to screen for different conditions that may affect your overall health.
The term white blood cell count is also used more generally to refer to the number of white blood cells in your body.
There are several types of white blood cells, and your blood usually contains a percentage of each type. Sometimes, however, your white blood cell count can fall or rise out of the healthy range. This may be due to an underlying condition or infection.
Keep reading to learn the normal white blood cell count range is and what high or low white blood cell counts may mean.
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How Do White Blood Cells Help Us
White blood cells are the bodys first line of defense against infection. They protect our body from infections by fighting off bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and other foreign invaders. These cells also facilitate the production of antibodies and help destroy infectious agents as well as cancer cells.
Fluctuations in the number of white blood cells can occur due to several reasons. You may notice an increase in your white blood cell count during exercise, while the count may drop while you are resting.
However, in some cases, the count might drop abnormally. There could be various factors at play, which we have discussed below.
What Is Low White Blood Cell Count
Every day, our bodies produce about 100 billion white blood cells . Leukocytes help defend our bodies against intruders like viruses and bacteria that may cause infections.
In leukopenia , you have lower-than-normal numbers of white blood cells. Specifically, you have fewer neutrophils than normal.
Neutrophils are white blood cells that act as your immune systems first line of defense. Without enough white blood cells, including enough neutrophils, youre more vulnerable to developing infections.
A white blood cell count thats less than 4,000 cells per microliter of blood is a low white blood cell count. Normal white blood cell counts vary depending on age and sex. For example, the white blood cell count for men, people designated male at birth and children is 5,000 to 10,000 cells per microliter of blood. The normal range for women and people designated female at birth is 4,500 to 11,000 microliters of blood.
Is leukopenia a kind of cancer?
No, its not but theres a connection between leukopenia and cancer. Cancer treatments may cause leukopenia.
Does leukopenia lead to leukemia?
No, but leukemia may cause leukopenia. Leukemia affects your blood cells, including white blood cells. Your bone marrow makes blood cells.
In leukemia, your body makes abnormal blood cells that multiply and divide. The abnormal cells eventually outnumber healthy cells, including healthy white blood cells. That leaves your body with lower-than-normal levels of white blood cells or leukopenia.
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How To Increase White Blood Cell Count Spinach
Spinach is a familiar plant that is packed with vitamin C, antioxidants as well as beta- carotene, which may increase the ability to fighting infection of the immune system. Like broccoli, it is best to cook spinach as slightly as possible in order to retain its nutrients. Light cooking will enhance the amount of vitamin A and simultaneously reduce oxalic acid.
Learn more: Benefits of Spinach
What Are The Types Of White Blood Cells
There are five types of white blood cells:
- Neutrophils: Help protect your body from infections by killing bacteria, fungi and foreign debris.
- Lymphocytes: Consists of T cells, natural killer cells and B cells to protect against viral infections and produce proteins to help you fight infection .
- Eosinophils: Identify and destroy parasites, and cancer cells and assist basophils with their allergic response.
- Basophils: Produces an allergic response like coughing, sneezing or a runny nose.
- Monocytes: Defend against infection by cleaning up damaged cells.
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What To Do If Your White Blood Cell Count Is Low
Because having a low white blood cell count weakens your immunity to foreign invaders, it’s important to take steps to avoid infections, according to the NLM:
- Take care when handling pets andother animals.
- Wash your hands often with soapand water.
- Limit your exposure to crowds andpeople who show symptoms of an infection.
People with an abnormally low number of neutrophils, the white blood cells that sense infections and destroy pathogens, have a condition called neutropenia. When the neutrophil count falls below 1,000 per microliter of blood, it becomes harder for the body to fight off infections. Patients with neutropenia often complain of symptoms that include fever, shaking and chills, Dr. Lichtin says.
Watching what you eat and drink is also important for people with neutropenia. Dr. Lichtin recommends following a neutropenic diet, which minimizes your exposure to pathogens in food. While a neutropenic diet won’t boost your white blood cell count, it can lower the risk of infection.
How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Leukopenia
Healthcare providers diagnose leukopenia by doing complete blood counts . They may do additional tests if they think you may have an infection. Those tests may include:
- Urine tests: These tests may help healthcare providers determine whats causing your infection.
- Chest X-ray: They may order this test if they think you have pneumonia.
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High White Blood Cell Count What You Should Know
White blood cells play an important role in your bodys immune system, searching the blood for invading viruses, bacteria, and fungi. When a foreign virus or bacteria enters your blood, the white blood cell , recognizes and destroys the invading particle before it can cause disease. There are several different types of white blood cells, each with their own function. Some directly destroy the foreign bacteria, while others attack your own cells that are infected by viruses. Other types of white blood cells can even play a role in allergic reactions!
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Types Of White Blood Cells
- Neutrophils: Fight infections by ingesting microbes like bacteria and fungi.
- Eosinophils: Fight large parasites like intestinal worms. These cells also secrete IgE antibodies to combat allergens.
- Basophils: Secrete histamine during allergic reactions.
- Lymphocytes: Lymphocytes consist of three cells B cells, T cells, and natural killer cells. B cells recognize viruses and release antibodies against them, while T cells and NK cells fight cells infected by viruses and cancer.
- Monocytes: Monocytes convert into macrophages and ingest cell debris.
Let us now understand how white blood cells protect the body from foreign body invasion.
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Medicines The Following Medicines May Help Increase Wbc Counts They Can Also Help Lower The Risk Of Or Treat Infection
Colony-stimulating factors are special medicines called growth factors. They stimulate, or help, the bone marrow to make white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Different types of growth factors stimulate the bone marrow to make different types of blood cells. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factors stimulate the bone marrow to make granulocytes. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors stimulate the bone marrow to make granulocytes and macrophages. Granulocytes and macrophages are types of WBCs.
With some chemotherapy drugs, G-CSFs or GM-CSFs may be given to stimulate the bone marrow to produce more WBCs. Filgrastim and pegfilgrastim are examples of G-CSFs. Sargramostim is a GM-CSF that may be used to help reduce the chance of developing infection and keep chemotherapy on schedule.
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How To Reduce Wbc Count
White blood cells are found in your blood and lymphatic system, and function to fight off viral or bacterial infections in the body. A high WBC indicates that there is something happening in your body that it is trying to fight off. A high WBC count could be attributed to anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, leukemia, tissue damage, severe stress and various infections. The key to reducing or preventing a high WBC count is to strengthen your immunity by eating healthy, exercising, avoiding stress and taking a daily dose of vitamins.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Talk with your doctor about medications you are taking that could raise your WBC count. Aspirin, corticosteroids and heparin can all raise your count. Antibiotics, antihistamines and diuretics can lower it.
Eat healthy foods to support and strengthen your immune system 3. Fruits, vegetables, garlic and mitake or shitake mushrooms are packed full of powerful immune boosters. Avoid soda and fried and processed foods, which will weaken your immunity.
Avoid stress by exercising and getting plenty of sleep. Stress causes cortisol levels to increase, which makes you susceptible to illness. Exercise for 45 minutes five days per week, and get seven hours of sleep per night to reduce stress.
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When Should I Contact My Healthcare Provider
Leukopenia increases your risk of developing infections, so you should contact your healthcare provider if you have leukopenia and think you may have an infection.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Leukopenia happens when your white blood cell levels are lower than normal. There are many reasons why your white blood cell level may drop. For example, you may be receiving life-saving cancer treatment that lowers your white blood cell levels. You may have an autoimmune disorder like lupus. If you have leukopenia, youre at risk of infections. If you know you have leukopenia, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to fend off infections.
How Do You Increase White Blood Cell Count
And What Factors Affect White Blood Cell Count
White blood cells are the immune cells in your body. They circulate in your bloodstream and work as guardians to help protect you from viruses, bacteria, and other infectious organisms.
Maintaining a normal level of healthy white blood cells can help reduce the risk of infection and is a key component of overall health. If you have a low WBC count, called leukopenia, you may be at an increased risk of developing infections.
Importantly, you don’t want extremely high levels of white blood cells. Increased WBC levelsknown as leukocytosisare a sign the body is responding to a stressor. Stressors that increase WBC levels can be physical, such as an infection, cancer, or an autoimmune disorder, or emotional.
This article discusses the function of white blood cells, the causes of increased and decreased white blood cell counts, and the medications and habits needed to maintain a healthy white blood cell count.
SEBASTIAN KAULITZKI / Getty Images
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What Are Neutropenic Precautions
If your white blood cell count drops to 1,000 per mm3 or below, you are considered to be neutropenic. Until your count rises, it will be necessary for you to take additional measures to further decrease your risk for infection.
These are referred to as “neutropenic precautions” and include:
- Take your temperature by mouth four times each day. Call your oncologist if your oral temperature is above 100.5o F.
- Eliminate uncooked foods, which may contain germs, including:
- raw meats or fish salads
- natural cheeses
Low White Blood Cell Counts
A lowered level of immunity is called immunosuppression. Certain diseases, including cancer, and certain treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can cause some people to have immunosuppression. This is usually referred to as having a low white blood cell count, but you might hear other words to describe it too.
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How Many Different Types Of White Blood Cells Are There
If you took a peek under a microscope, youd see that our white blood cells arent really white, but clear. Our WBCs are created via stem cells in our bone marrow and stored until an infection occurs when our immune system deploys them.
But did you know not all white blood cells are created equal? There are five different types of WBCs in our bodies, and they can be grouped into three different categories:
Low White Blood Cell Count
Leukopenia is the medical term used to describe a low WBC count. This can be triggered by:
Sometimes, the term neutropenia is also used to indicate a low blood count. This term actually refers to a low number of neutrophils but because this type of white blood cell makes up 55 to 70 percent of your overall white blood cells, leukopenia is often driven by a low number of neutrophils.
Having neutropenia may put you at an increased risk for infection, illness, and death. This is because you may not have enough white blood cells to protect you from germs and bacteria. If you have this condition, it is important to take precautions such as wearing a mask in public settings to limit your exposure and reduce your risk of infection.
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Can You Increase Your White Blood Cell Count
White blood cells are measured with a blood test called the complete blood count, or CBC, as part of a routine physical or when your doctor suspects you have an illness or infection. There’s not much you can do to increase white blood cells, but you can protect your immune system by taking certain steps.
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White blood cells, or WBC, also called leukocytes, are made in the bone marrow and found in the blood and lymph tissue, according to the National Cancer Institute. As part of your immune system, they help your body fight infection and other diseases. There are five major types of white blood cells:
An important marker for doctors to monitor your health, your white blood cell count may be taken to look for conditions such as infection, inflammation, allergies or leukemia.
What To Do To Avoid Bleeding
Adjust your lifestyle to prevent injuries.
- Avoid strenuous activity, contact sports, lifting heavy objects, bending from the waist, straining to cough, blow your nose, or constipation.
- Avoid medications that affect blood clotting .
- Do not take aspirin or any product that contains aspirin. Check the labels of all drugs you are taking for salicylic acid, the chemical name for aspirin. If you are not sure about a drug or cannot tell by reading the label, check with your oncologist, nurse or a pharmacist. Do not take any non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications such as MotrinÂ®, AleveÂ®, AdvilÂ®, etc. For headaches or other pain, use acetaminophen .
- Avoid procedures that may cause a break in the skin. Avoid rectal exams, vaginal exams, vigorous thrusting during sexual intercourse, enemas, suppositories, douches, tampons, vaginal or rectal applicators, rectal thermometers, dental exams, surgeries, etc.
- Take special precautions with personal hygiene.
- Avoid falls in the shower or tub by using slip guard mats.
- Keep your teeth clean with a soft toothbrush. Do not use alcohol-based mouthwashes. Do not use dental floss. Keep your lips moist with lip balm to prevent cracking.
- Use an electric razor for shaving.
- Wear shoes to protect your feet.
- Avoid tight constrictive clothing or jewelry.
- Use stool softeners to avoid hard bowel movements that may cause injury to the rectum.
When to call the doctor
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