Saturday, September 23, 2023

Is Low White Blood Count Serious

What Are The Risks Of Having Low White Blood Cell Count

My white blood count is low: Should I Worry?

The main risk of an abnormally low white blood cell count is how vulnerable it may make a person to infection. Without an adequate white blood cell response available to fight infection, the body is at greater risk that any infection may cause serious illness or death.Risk of infection is an even greater concern for a patient whose immunity is already compromised for some reason. One example of this is a low neutrophil count caused by the effect of cancer chemotherapy on the bone marrow. Where this is the case, treatments may need to be rescheduled to allow recovery of the white cell count and medications may be given to stimulate the growth of neutrophils to help maintain adequate levels.Since leukopenia is itself asymptomatic and chronic infection may go unrecognised because of failure to mount a symptomatic response, immunocompromised patients will usually have a periodic blood count to monitor their white cell count along with other regular health checks.

Can Eczema Be A Sign Of Other Conditions

Eczema isnt a sign that you have other illnesses. However, it can look similar to or happen alongside other conditions.

Symptoms like itchy and red skin are also common with other skin conditions that are easy to mistake for eczema. These conditions are:

  • Psoriasis: an autoimmune disease that causes your skin cells to multiply too fast
  • Hives: large red welts on the skin caused by an allergic reaction
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma: a cancer of the white blood cells that starts in the skin
  • Scabies: a skin infestation by a type of mite
  • Ringworm: a skin infection caused by a fungus

Eczema is sometimes part of a cluster of allergic conditions that healthcare professionals call the atopic march. These include:

  • allergic rhinitis

If you have one of these three conditions, youre more likely to have another one.

In addition, your eczema may be more severe if you have one of these primary immunodeficiency diseases:

  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome

2020 research . Stress can trigger eczema flare-ups and make symptoms worse.

When youre feeling overwhelmed or threatened, your body releases certain chemicals, including stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These substances suppress your immune system, boost inflammation, and weaken your skins barrier even more.

Stress and eczema may become connected in a cycle. The more your eczema flares, the more stressed you may become. And the more stressed you are, the more your eczema flares.

Donât Miss: What Helps Babies With Eczema

What Causes Anemia Rash

In iron deficiency anemia, researchers arenât sure how the itching develops. One theory is that low iron levels can make skin thinner, causing more water loss. This can cause itching.

Skin changes in aplastic anemia are due to low platelets . This condition is also known as thrombocytopenia. When your platelet levels are low, the small blood vessels under your skin can bleed, causing the telltale red dots. You may also bruise easily or experience other types of bleeding, such as nosebleeds or bleeding gums.

Recommended Reading: What’s The Difference Between Blood And Plasma

How Can Doctors Tell If My White Blood Cell Count Is Low

Doctors can tell you have a low white blood cell count by doing a routine complete blood count . If you’re getting treatments or have a disease that can lower your white blood cell count, doctors check your CBC often.

Sometimes, the cause is obvious, such as if youre getting chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer.

If the cause isn’t clear, doctors may do:

  • Blood, urine, and imaging tests looking for infection

  • Bone marrow biopsy

Symptoms Of Low White Blood Cell Count

Low Blood Count? How to Increase Your White Blood Cell Count

Low white blood cell count is medically known as âleukopenia,â and it is almost always related to significant reductions in neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. Neutrophils are designed to fight specific infections, particularly bacterial infections, and low neutrophil count is known as âneutropenia” .

So what happens when your white blood cells are low? Most people with a low white blood cell count will not experience any symptoms. Typically, when white blood cell levels are abnormally low, you may be more prone to infections. Common signs of an infection are chills, sweating, and a fever over 100.5° Fahrenheit .

A low neutrophil count will usually result in persistent fevers and infections affecting various organ systems. Neutropenia can make you more prone to:

  • Bladder infections
  • Increased coughing and trouble breathing because of lung infections
  • Nasal issues and sinus infections

Also Check: Blood Sugar Level Type 2 Diabetes

What Is A Low Blood Count

A low blood count relates to the cells in our blood, which fall into three categories white cells , red cells and platelets. A low blood count can apply to either the haemoglobin, the white cells, or indeed one of the five subtypes of cells, or the platelets being below the lower limit of our reference range. Patients with a low blood count of red cells can be described as being anaemic.

Our reference range is taken from where most patients are on a scale. However, its important to be cautious with this because a low blood count is not always abnormal and some people may have their own blood count which is normal for them despite it being lower than in most people.

What Abnormal Results Mean


A low number of WBCs is called leukopenia. A count less than 4,500 cells per microliter is below normal.

Neutrophils are one type of WBC. They are important for fighting infections.

A lower than normal WBC count may be due to:

  • Bone marrow deficiency or failure
  • Cancer treating drugs, or other medicines
  • Certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus ( SLE
  • Disease of the liver or spleen
  • Radiation treatment for cancer
  • Certain viral illnesses, such as mononucleosis
  • Cancers that damage the bone marrow
  • Very severe bacterial infections
  • Severe emotional or physical stress


A higher than normal WBC count is called leukocytosis. It may be due to:

  • Certain drugs or medicines
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Infections, most often those caused by bacteria
  • Inflammatory disease

There may also be less common reasons for abnormal WBC counts.

Drugs that may lower your WBC count include:

Drugs that may increase WBC counts include:

  • Beta adrenergic agonists
  • Corticosteroids

You May Like: How Lower Blood Sugar Quickly

Does Anxiety Lower Immune System

But if you repeatedly feel anxious and stressed or it lasts a long time, your body never gets the signal to return to normal functioning. This can weaken your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to viral infections and frequent illnesses. Also, your regular vaccines may not work as well if you have anxiety.

Symptoms Of Low White Blood Cells

Why My White Blood Cell Count (WBC) Is Low?

You wouldnt expect to have direct symptoms of low white blood cells. But when these cells are low, it causes the immune system to be weak. With a weak immune system, medical problems can arise and these problems will often cause symptoms.

Infections are the most common effect of a low number of white blood cells. The infections can be more frequent and more severe than what you would experience if you had a healthy immune system. Lacking white blood cells can also make it difficult for you to heal from injuries or recover from illnesses.

Symptoms that you may experience from complications of having a low white count include:

  • Painful urination, blood in the urine, urinary frequency
  • Skin sores that dont heal
  • Mouth sores, mouth pain

The symptoms that accompany a low white blood cell count can vary and depend on what’s causing the low count. For example, a bladder infection can cause urinary symptoms, and a stomach infection can cause nausea and vomiting.

Sometimes a lack of white blood cells leads to opportunistic infections, which are infections that wouldnt normally develop in a person with a healthy immune system.

Cancer is another potentially serious effect of low white blood cells. These immune cells normally recognize and destroy abnormal cancer cells, and a white blood cell deficiency can allow cancer cells to multiply and spread in the body.

Don’t Miss: Can Blood Pressure Medicine Cause Erectile Dysfunction

What Is A Low White Blood Cell Count

A low white blood cell count is an unusually low number of one or more kinds of white blood cells.

  • A low white blood cell count puts you at increased risk of infection

  • Some infections can be life-threatening

  • A low white blood cell count can be a side effect of drugs, particularly chemotherapy drugs

  • Sometimes a low white blood cell count is caused by an infection or cancer

  • Doctors may do blood tests and bone marrow tests to see why your white blood cell count is low

  • Doctors may give you medicine to increase your white blood cells and antibiotics if you have a fever or other signs of infection

When To See A Healthcare Provider

If you have been diagnosed with low white blood cells, its helpful for you to know the signs of complications and to get medical attention if you start to develop problems. You wont be able to feel any direct effects of a low white blood cell count, so you may need periodic testing to monitor your count.

Get prompt medical attention for any of the following:

  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Signs of dehydrationsunken eyes, dry skin, decreased urination
  • Confusion, lethargy
  • Painful, red, or pus-filled wound
  • Shortness of breath

Don’t Miss: What Blood Type Is Universal Donor

What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Counts

The symptoms of bone marrow failure diseases like aplastic anemia, MDS and PNH are caused by low blood counts. The specific symptoms depend on which type of blood cell is affected. Read the section below to see the symptoms for each type of cell.

You may have many of these symptoms or just one or two of them. And you may get a new symptom at any point in the course of your illness.

A low red blood cell count is called anemia. If you have a low red blood cell count, you may:

  • Feel a little tired or very tired.
  • Feel less alert or have trouble concentrating.
  • Have a loss of appetite or lose weight.
  • Have paler-than-normal skin.

How Is A Low White Blood Cell Count Diagnosed

What Does a Low White Blood Cell Count Mean? The Answer Isn

To determine if a person has a low white blood cell count, the doctor will order a blood test known as a complete blood count. The doctor may order a complete blood count test on a regular basis to check on a patient who has certain conditions, such as an infection or immune system disorder. Other information from the complete blood count will help your doctor come up with a list of possible diagnoses. Your doctor may recommend a referral to a hematology specialist.

Don’t Miss: Over Counter High Blood Pressure Medicine

What Are White Blood Cells

White blood cells make up about 1% of our blood and they help protect the body against illness and disease.

White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and stored in the blood and lymph tissues.

What Is the Function of White Blood Cells?

There are several different types of white blood cells that each have slightly different functions.

  • These white blood cells are the bodys first line of defense when infection occurs
  • They kill and digest bacteria and fungi and turn into pus when they die
  • These are the most numerous type of white blood cell, comprising about 60 to 70% of the total number of white blood cells
  • These white blood cells create antibodies to fight against bacteria, viruses, and other harmful germs
  • There are many different types of lymphocytes
  • They make up about 30% of the total number of white blood cells
  • These white blood cells have a longer lifespan than other white blood cells and help to break down bacteria
  • They make up about 8% of the total number of white blood cells
  • These white blood cells attack and kill parasites and cancer cells
  • They also help with allergic responses
  • They make up about 1 to 3% of the total number of white blood cells
  • These white blood cells release histamine during an allergic reaction which promotes blood flow to the bodys tissues
  • They play a role in fighting infection
  • They make up about 0.5% of the total number of white blood cells
  • What Foods To Avoid If You Have Low White Blood Cells

    If you have neutropenia, you should avoid raw meat, eggs and fish, moldy or expired food, unwashed or moldy fruit and vegetables, and unpasteurized beverages, including fruit and vegetable juice, beer, milk, as well as unpasteurized honey. Fruits and Vegetables should be washed thoroughly before you eat them.

    Read Also: Normal Red Blood Cell Count Range

    Can Itchy Skin Be A Sign Of Leukaemia

    Itchy skin is a problem we are all familiar with. However, did you know that in very rare cases, itchy skin can be caused by a serious underlying condition such as leukaemia? Read on to find out more.

    Send / print this page

    Medically known as pruritis, itchy skin is a problem we are all familiar with. It can become very irritating, especially if the underlying cause is unclear. Possible causes range anywhere from the clothes you wear, to dry skin, to certain skin disorders such as eczema or dermatitis. In very rare cases, itchy skin can be caused by a serious underlying condition such as leukaemia.

    According to our patient survey Living Well with Leukaemia, around 9% of people with leukaemia will experience itchy skin as a symptom prior to their diagnosis. Read on to gain a better understanding of the causes of itchy skin, so that you can spot leukaemia sooner.

    Spotting the difference

    It is very difficult to differentiate between itching that is due to leukaemia and itching that is caused by a benign condition such as a skin allergy. However, there are a few things to look out for that should be treated with concern:

  • The itch is all over your body
  • Dry skin is usually responsible for generalised itching. However, if your skin isnt dry and the itch is all over your body, this could be a sign of a systemic underlying problem and so is worth getting checked by your GP, certainly if it lasts for longer than 2 weeks or keeps coming back.

    • Polycythaemia Vera

    The Connection Between White Blood Cell Count And Covid

    What Does a Low White Blood Cell Count Mean?

    A high WBC count, also called leukocytosis, is usually a sign that the body is fighting an infection, and the same is true in COVID-19. Research has shown that people who test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms typically have a high WBC count, particularly lymphocytes.

    Lymphocytes circulate throughout your body, and create antibodies, proteins released to fight pathogens, to help your immune system fight infections. B cells focus on attacking invading viruses and bacteria, while T-cells destroy the body’s own cells that have been damaged by things like viruses or cancer.

    The high level of lymphocytes observed in asymptomatic people with COVID-19 makes sense. It means that their immune systems are doing a good job of keeping the coronavirus in check by creating antibodies and destroying damaged cells.

    Studies have shown more severe illness and death in people with COVID-19 who had a high WBC count. A number of other studies have found that lower WBC counts or elevated WBC counts with decreased levels of lymphocytes in particular were associated with more severe illness and death in COVID-19.

    This can be because the levels of some types of WBCs like neutrophils are higher as the body fights off the virus, while levels of lymphocytes remain low.

    • Loss of taste or smell

    Also Check: Reasons You Can’t Donate Blood

    Is A Low Blood Count Serious

    A low blood count can be serious but often is not. Occasionally, low blood counts can have serious consequences as, with low platelets for example, the patient may be at high risk of bleeding. Similarly, a very low haemoglobin count can make a person unwell with anaemia and a low count of white cells can put them at an elevated risk of contracting serious infections quickly.

    Most of the time, however, low blood counts are only mild to moderate and can be managed very well so are not serious. Even in cases where the blood count is very low and potentially serious, we can usually find a cause behind the issue which we are able to treat. Also, even if there is no obvious cause, we are often able to manage the effects of very low blood counts.

    Problems Neutropenia Might Cause

    • Increased risk for infection
    • In a person with a healthy immune system, the usual signs of infection may include fever, pus, pain, swelling, and redness. As the ANC gets lower, many of these signs may not show up when an infection starts. This is because these signs are caused by neutrophils fighting off germs, and you dont have enough neutrophils to produce the signs.
    • Your cancer care team may have to delay your treatment or reduce your dose to prevent further neutropenia

    Recommended Reading: Is 160 Blood Sugar High After Eating

    Who Is Likely To Have A Low White Blood Cell Count

    A low white blood cell count can occur in anyone. The number of white blood cells in the body can vary, depending on a persons age, race, and gender, and if he or she has certain medical conditions.

    People who are undergoing certain treatments for cancer are likely to have a low white blood cell count.

    What Causes Low Blood Counts

    low white blood cell count

    The most common reason cancer patients experience low blood counts is as a side effect of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy works by destroying cells that grow rapidly, a characteristic of cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy also affects normal cells that grow rapidly, such as cells in the bone marrow that produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

    Read Also: What Are The Types Of Blood

    Latest news
    Related news