The bone marrow produces different cells that make up the blood and carry out important functions for the body. Leukocytes, better known as white blood cells, are some of those cells. Its function? Fight infections by bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms that can attack the body. There are different types of leukocytes and each of them can have a different concentration in the blood, however, a person is considered to have low leukocytes when they have less than 3,500 leukocytes per microliter of blood , which is called leukopenia.
The level of leukocytes in the blood of people can vary according to sex, age and certain habits. In addition to being present in the blood, these cells are also produced in the lymphatic system , which allows them to be present in the spleen, tonsils, lymph, and nodes. Leukocytes are part of the immune system , they are the body’s defenses. For this reason, it is important to detect the cause of leukopenia early, as a low white blood cell count increases the risk of infection . Do you want why this condition occurs? In this eHealth article we explain it to you.
Types of white blood cells
White blood cells or leukocytes are a set of blood cells that perform different functions to protect and defend the body from disease . When you have low leukocytes, it is important to know which blood cells are deficient in the fluid. The types of leukocytes are:
- Neutrophils : are the most abundant white blood cells in the body and have the task of fighting fungi, bacteria and other pathogens that cause infections.
- Basophils : they are present in less quantity, they intervene in the immune response process and stimulate the release of serotonin and histamine .
- Eosinophils : regulate the allergic processes that may manifest in the body and activate hypersensitivity reactions in the presence of a foreign body.
- Monocytes : like neutrophils, they destroy microorganisms and cell debris.
- Lymphocytes : they are responsible for destroying abnormal cells in the human body and producing antibodies.
What are the normal values for white blood cells?
The concentration of white blood cells in the blood can be found through analysis of a blood sample. This test will reflect the number of each of the types of white blood cells and all of the leukocytes in the body. Normal blood leukocyte values range from 4,000 to 11,000 white blood cells per microliter of blood . A result of less than 4,000 leukocytes per microliter of blood is a sign of leukopenia.
When the white blood cell count is abnormally low, it is important to immediately make an appointment with a medical specialist, preferably with a hematologist, since when the body has low defenses it is more prone to contracting infections, viruses and other diseases. Likewise, it is essential to know the cause of the decrease in leukocytes to rule out major complications associated with leukopenia and to start the appropriate treatment.
Causes of low white blood cells
Bone marrow problems
Some diseases of the spinal cord can affect how it works, causing it to produce fewer white blood cells . It can also happen that the marrow produces too much of a certain type of leukocyte, which causes the other white blood cells to be deficient in the blood flow. Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency, anemia, myeloproliferative syndrome, leukemia, and myelodysplastic syndrome with some of the conditions that can affect spinal function.
Also, chemical treatments such as chemotherapy, exposure to toxic substances, radiotherapy, and some medicines can decrease the production of white blood cells in the bone marrow.
Keeping white blood cells at a normal level is essential for the body to fight infection. However, when a virus or bacteria becomes resistant in the body, the white blood cells, which are trying to preserve health, decrease in quantity and it is necessary to help them with the consumption of antibiotics that fight pathogens. However, there are infections , such as septicemia, that spread through the body or are very difficult to eliminate and critically compromise the level of leukocytes in the blood . In these cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary.
Pseudoleukopenia, which is a very temporary low level of white blood cells, can also occur. This occurs when an infection is beginning in the human body and the white blood cells have traveled to the blood vessels to fight the condition while the marrow is producing the amount necessary to replace the deficit. Therefore, a blood test at this time may show low leukocytes, but sooner rather than later everything returns to normal.
Systemic lupus erimatous is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly views white blood cells as a threat to the body and chooses to destroy them .
In some cases, leukopenia is a side effect of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS , malaria, flu , dengue, copper and zinc deficiency, and tuberculosis . In these cases it is vital to treat the primary disease correctly in order to regulate low levels of leukocytes in the blood.
Other causes of low white blood cells
- Antiepileptic drugs, immunosuppressants, antidepressants, and penicillin.
- Spleen overgrowth.
- Lymphomas and metastases.
- Crohn’s disease .
Symptoms of low white blood cells
In general, a low level of white blood cells does not usually cause obvious symptoms. Some people are likely to experience weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, or dizziness , but it is not the most common. The symptoms that become evident are those of the condition that has caused the leukopenia, usually infections. However, when the level of white blood cells is persistent, diseases such as anemia can be triggered.
Treatment for low leukocytes
The goal of treatment is to determine what is the cause of low white blood cells in order to offer a comprehensive treatment that replenishes the levels of these cells in the blood. It is important to be patient during the diagnostic process, as there are some conditions that are very difficult to diagnose and require multiple tests.
When the cause of leukopenia is the consumption of some medication, it is important that doctors evaluate the health risk of this side effect with the aim of considering stopping it or not. Likewise, when a person has low white blood cells as a result of chemotherapy, leukopenia cannot be avoided, it will be necessary to prevent contact with sick people and bacteria to avoid infection.
Some bone marrow disorders, cancer, and metastasis can cause constant leukopenia that in some cases must be treated through blood transfusions . When white blood cells are low due to infectious processes or flu, they will return to normal once the disease has been overcome.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.