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Abnormal Amount of White Blood Cells

As the body’s cellular soldiers, white blood cells fight on the front lines against invasions by bacterial and viral threats. A number of different types of white blood cells, or WBCs, exist, each with unique strengths and disease-fighting properties. Neutrophils, for example, will swallow foreign microbes and digest them. Lymphocytes, another type of white blood cell, produce antibodies that inhibit the activity of invasive microorganisms 3.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Types

WBC counts can be either increased or decreased as a result of disease. An increase in WBC is called leukocytosis, while a decrease is called leukopenia, according to RNCeus. Each of these conditions causes its own set of symptoms and complications.

Leukocytosis can be caused by infections, reactions to steroid drugs or leukemia. Leukocytosis comes in five types, each named for the particular type of white blood cell that is increased 3.

Leukopenia is often associated with bone marrow disorders or overwhelming bacterial infections that exhaust the white blood cell supply 3. A variety of different types of drugs can also cause leukopenia.

Significance

Causes for Blood Count to Drop

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Fluctuations of blood cell counts post significant risks to human health. Severely depleted white blood cell counts can indicate a situation in which the patient is at risk of contracting a serious infection that his immune system is ill-equipped to fight 3. Agranulocytosis, a condition wherein white blood cell count is low, is considered a serious complication of antithyroid drug therapy, according to the American Family Physician website 13.

Elevated white blood cell counts can be a serious cause for concern as they can result from leukemia, a potentially fatal disease 3.

Effects

A decrease in white blood cells, as experienced in cases of agranulocytosis, can manifest with symptoms similar to leukocytosis, such as:

  • mouth ulcers
  • bleeding gums

Considerations

Signs & Symptoms of Low Monocytes Blood Cell Count

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White blood cell counts can be caused by genetically inherited disorders 3. Congenital agranulocytosis is passed on to children through familial abnormalities in the DNA. Mayoclinic.com notes that Down syndrome, a genetic disorder, has been linked to increased predisposition for leukemia 2.

Treatments

Treatment for white blood cell count abnormalities involves a number of different techniques 3. Chemotherapy is used as a primary form of leukemia treatment. Radiation therapy may also be helpful in destroying leukemia cells and stopping the growth of the disease. Treatment of diseases originating in the bone marrow can benefit from palliative care to address the symptoms, and stem cell transplantation to address the cause, according to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.

The Wrap Up
  • As the body’s cellular soldiers, white blood cells fight on the front lines against invasions by bacterial and viral threats.
  • Leukocytosis comes in five types, each named for the particular type of white blood cell that is increased.
  • Leukopenia is often associated with bone marrow disorders or overwhelming bacterial infections that exhaust the white blood cell supply.
  • A variety of different types of drugs can also cause leukopenia.
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