What Happens During A White Blood Count
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out.
To test children, a health care provider will take a sample from the heel or the fingertip . The provider will clean the heel or fingertip with alcohol and poke the site with a small needle. The provider will collect a few drops of blood and put a bandage on the site.
Leukemia White Blood Cell Count Ranges
Different labs use slightly different ranges and units, so youll want to look closely at the range provided on your report. These ranges are based on the cell counts of healthy people of similar age and sex.
According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the normal range of white blood cells per microliter of blood is:
- 5,000 to 10,000 for men
- 4,500 to 11,000 for women
Normal ranges for different types of white blood cells are:
- Neutrophils: 55 to 70 percent
- Lymphocytes: 20 to 40 percent
- Monocytes: 2 to 8 percent
- Eosinophils: 1 to 4 percent
- Basophils: 0.5 to 1 percent
- Band neutrophils: 0 to 3 percent
Another important number to know in the differential is the absolute neutrophil count. This number is calculated by multiplying the percentage of neutrophils by the total white blood cell count. Its an indicator of how well your body can fight off bacterial infections. Anything less than 1,000 puts you at an increased risk. Less than 500 is high risk and considered severe neutropenia.
In addition, your CBC will show:
- 55 percent increase in neutrophils
- 38 percent increase in monocytes
- 36 percent reduction in lymphocytes
- no change to eosinophils and basophils
What Does The Test Measure
A WBC count measures the total number of WBCs contained in a sample of blood. WBC, also called leukocytes, are an important part of the immune system. Made in the bone marrow, WBC help defend the body against infections and disease. There are five types of WBC, each supporting the immune system in a different way.
The WBC count is usually expressed as thousands of cells per microliter . Around 100 billion WBC are produced each day in the bone marrow. As they mature, WBC can be found in blood and the lymphatic system. There are five types of WBC:
A WBC count measures the total amount of all kinds of WBC. If a doctor needs information about the number of individual types of WBC, this information is provided in the WBC differential test.
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Preparing For A Blood Test
Depending on the kind of blood test you are having, you may need to prepare for the test. This may mean fasting for 8 or 12 hours prior to the test, not eating certain foods that may affect the results, or not taking certain kinds of medications. You may also be asked to not smoke or consume alcohol before the test.
It is highly recommended you drink 8 to 10 glasses of water on the days leading up to your test as being hydrated helps with blood flow. Being hydrated also helps veins stick out and be found more easily for the procedure.
What Are Common Tests To Check The Number Of White Blood Cells
A complete blood count test identifies information about the cells in your blood. A lab completes this test after a medical professional draws your blood and examines your white and red blood cell count.
White blood cells scan is a test to detect infection or abscesses in your bodyâs soft tissues. This test involves withdrawing your blood, separating the white blood cells from the sample, tagging them with a radioactive isotope, returning those white blood cells back into your body, then an imaging test will identify areas that show infection or abscess on your body.
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Where To Find Support
Everyones different, so theres no right or wrong way to feel about it. But life with leukemia may be overwhelming at times. If you need emotional support, practical support, or both, know that youre not alone and help is available.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society provides a variety of educational and support services, such as:
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: Consist 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, cancer cells and assists basophils with your 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 Do The Results Mean
A high white blood count may mean you have one of the following conditions:
- A bacterial or viral infection
- An inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Tissue damage from a burn injury or surgery
A low white blood count may mean you have one of the following conditions:
- Bone marrow damage. This may be caused by infection, disease, or treatments such as chemotherapy.
- Cancers that affect the bone marrow
- An autoimmune disorder, such as lupus
If you are already being treated for a white blood cell disorder, your results may show if your treatment is working or whether your condition has improved.
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
Normal Reference Range Of Values
No hard-and-fast number defines what a “normal” WBC count is. Instead, the results are reported in relation to the normal expected range of values within a population. Anything below this range is low, and anything above this range is considered high.
A low or high WBC count doesn’t mean the same for all people, mainly if the values are borderline. This is because a “normal” WBC count can vary from one person to the next based on age, sex, race, smoking status, and other factors. WBC counts can also fluctuate throughout the day.
Labs can also differ in defining a high or a low WBC count. So, it is possible to have a normal WBC at one lab and find that you have a low or high WBC count at another.
WBC counts are measured by the number of white blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood . Here is an example of how a lab might define the expected range of values for a WBC count:
|Example of WBC Count Reference Ranges|
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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A White Blood Count
White blood count results are often compared with results of other blood tests, including a blood differential. A blood differential test shows the amount of each type of white blood cell, such as neutrophils or lymphocytes. Neutrophils mostly target bacterial infections. Lymphocytes mostly target viral infections.
- A higher than normal amount of neutrophils is known as neutrophilia.
- A lower than normal amount is known as neutropenia.
- A higher than normal amount of lymphocytes is known as lymphocytosis.
- A lower normal amount is known as lymphopenia.
What To Expect From A Wbc Count
A healthcare professional or lab technician needs to draw blood to check your WBC count.
This blood sample is typically taken either from a vein in your arm or a vein on the back of your hand. It only takes a couple of minutes to draw your blood, and you may experience minor discomfort.
The healthcare professional first cleans the site to kill any germs. Then, they will typically tie an elastic band around the upper section of your arm. This elastic band helps the blood fill your vein, making it easier for the blood to be drawn.
They may then insert a needle into your arm or hand to collect the blood in an attached tube. After, they will remove the elastic band from around your arm and remove the needle. Finally, the technician may apply gauze or a bandage to the site to stop the bleeding.
Theres typically a different technique for drawing blood from young children and infants. This may include first puncturing the skin with a lancet and then using a test strip or a small vial to collect the blood.
A laboratory typically processes these results. You may receive your results online, over a phone call, or during a follow-up visit.
Having your blood drawn is a simple procedure, and complications are rare.
Rare complications of a blood test may include:
- infection at the needle site
- excessive bleeding
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Abnormal Wbc Count Due To Medications
Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause an abnormal WBC count. It is essential always to review your medication history with your healthcare provider.
Certain drugs can cause your WBC count to drop below the normal range of values. These include:
- Antibiotics: Used to treat bacterial infections
- Anticonvulsive drugs: Use to treat epilepsy and chronic pain
- Chemotherapy: Used to treat cancer
- Rituxan : Used to treat autoimmune diseases and certain cancers
Some medicines can raise your WBC count. Some of the more common include:
- Albuterol: Used to treat asthma and other breathing problems
- Beta-blockers: Used to treat high blood pressure
The Full Blood Count Test
A Full Blood Count Test, commonly known as an FBC test , is one of the most common types of blood tests doctors request. This test measures various types of cells in your blood and is often used to monitor whether those levels are rising or falling.
There are many reasons why someone would need a FBC test whether the doctor is screening you for various cancers, monitoring your health during treatment, or monitoring your recovery. As conditions such as blood cancers dont have clear external signs that indicate your health, your doctor may ask for regular FBC tests to monitor your progress, no matter what stage of an illness you are at.
An FBC test measures a number of different variables in your blood:
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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.
Low White Blood Cell Count Causes
Low white blood cell count is often caused by problems with the bone marrow where they are made. The bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside of bones which is responsible for creating most of the bodys blood cells.Certain types of cancer, such as leukemia, and treatments such as chemotherapy can damage the bone marrows ability to create white blood cells. Chemicals such as benzene and certain pesticides can also damage the bone marrow.Another common cause for a low white blood cell count is infection. An infection can affect the bone marrow and make it difficult for the body to produce white blood cells. Also, when the body is fighting a particularly severe infection, the rate of white cell production, even when stepped up in response, may not keep up with the rate at which white blood cells are being used up in combating the 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. Certain medications can also destroy white blood cells. Vitamin deficiency, excessive alcohol consumption and generally poor diet can also lower a white blood cell count.
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How Is Leukocytosis Treated
Treatment for leukocytosis varies depending on what caused the condition in the first place. For example, if you have a high white blood cell count due to a bacterial infection, then your healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics. If leukocytosis is associated with an allergic reaction, then youll probably need antihistamines. Other common high white blood cell count treatments include:
- Medications to reduce stress or anxiety.
- Anti-inflammatory medications.
- IV fluids to improve blood flow.
- Leukapheresis, a procedure to quickly reduce the number of white blood cells in your blood.
- Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or stem cell transplants.
In some cases, your white blood cell count may return to normal without intervention.
Leukemia White Blood Cell Count Ranges In Children
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society says that children under 4 years old may have a higher percentage of lymphocytes in their blood than older children and adults. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the normal ranges of white blood cells per microliter of blood are:
- 9,000 to 30,000 for newborns
- 6,200 to 17,000 for children under 2
- 5,000 to 10,000 for children over 2
Leukemia is the most common cancer in children and teens, according to the of ALL occurs in children. Diagnosis includes the presence of 20 percent or more lymphoblasts, or immature lymphocytes, in the blood or bone marrow.
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Children More Than 2 Years Of Age And Adults
5,000 to 10,000/mm3
Higher-than-normal test results may indicate that you have an infection or sickness that your body is fighting. Lower-than-normal test results may indicate that your immune system is not operating as effectively as it should. This implies that even a little illness might result in major health complications.
How To Raise Or Lower White Blood Cell Count
Whether or not a person needs to alter their white blood cell count will depend on the diagnosis.
If they have a medical condition that affects the number of white blood cells in their body, they should talk to a doctor about the goals for their white blood cell count, depending on their current treatment plan.
A person can lower their white blood cell count by taking medications such as hydroxyurea or undergoing leukapheresis, which is a procedure that uses a machine to filter the blood.
If a persons white blood cell count is low due to cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, a doctor may recommend avoiding foods that contain bacteria. This may help prevent infections.
A person can also take colony-stimulating factors. These may help prevent infection and increase the number of white blood cells in the body.
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What Are The Risks Of Having Low White Blood Cell Count
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.
Are There Any Risks To The Test
After a blood test, you may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
There is very little risk to your baby or child with a needle stick test. Your child may feel a little pinch when the site is poked, and a small bruise may form at the site. This should go away quickly.
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Counting And Reference Ranges
The complete blood cell count is a blood panel that includes the overall white blood cell count and differential count, a count of each type of white blood cell. Reference ranges for blood tests specify the typical counts in healthy people.
The normal total leucocyte count in an adult is 4000 to 11,000 per mm3 of blood.
Differential leucocyte count: number/ of different types of leucocytes per cubic mm. of blood. Below are reference ranges for various types leucocytes.
Red Blood Cells Hemoglobin And Hematocrit
Red blood cells deliver oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and on their return carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs where it is exhaled. These functions are mediated by the cells’ hemoglobin. The analyzer counts red blood cells, reporting the result in units of 106 cells per microlitre of blood or 1012 cells per litre , and measures their average size, which is called the mean cell volume and expressed in femtolitres or cubic micrometres. By multiplying the mean cell volume by the red blood cell count, the hematocrit or packed cell volume , a measurement of the percentage of blood that is made up of red blood cells, can be derived and when the hematocrit is performed directly, the mean cell volume may be calculated from the hematocrit and red blood cell count. Hemoglobin, measured after the red blood cells are lysed, is usually reported in units of grams per litre or grams per decilitre . Assuming that the red blood cells are normal, there is a constant relationship between hemoglobin and hematocrit: the hematocrit percentage is approximately three times greater than the hemoglobin value in g/dL, plus or minus three. This relationship, called the rule of three, can be used to confirm that CBC results are correct.
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