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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.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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.
- WBC counts can be either increased or decreased as a result of disease.
- Leukopenia is often associated with bone marrow disorders or overwhelming bacterial infections that exhaust the white blood cell supply 3.
Common Cell Diseases
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.
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
Signs & Symptoms of Low Monocytes Blood Cell Count
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.
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.
- Treatment for white blood cell count abnormalities involves a number of different techniques 3.
- 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.
Common Cell Diseases
Signs & Symptoms of Low Monocytes Blood Cell Count
Causes for Blood Count to Drop
What Does a Low Platelet Count Indicate?
Medications That Boost White Blood Cells
Drugs That Cause Peripheral Neuropathy
What Are the Treatments for Low WBC?
What Are the Treatments for a Rapid Heart Rate?
The Effect of Asthma on RBC Count
Diseases That Lower White Blood Cells
- American Family Physician
- MayoClinic.com: Leukemia Treatment and Drugs
- RNCeus: White Blood Cell Count
- Atallah-Yunes SA, Ready A, Newburger PE. Benign Ethnic Neutropenia. Blood Reviews. 2019. 37:100586. doi:10.1016/j.blre.2019.06.003
- Chen L, Xu X, Zhang Y, Peng J, Zhou K, Wang J. Detection of EDTA-induced pseudo-leukopenia using automated hematology analyzer with VCS technology. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. 2018;56(8):e204-e206. doi:10.1515/cclm-2017-1173
- Riley LK, Rupert J. Evaluation of patients With leukocytosis. American Family Physician. 2015;92(11):1004-11.
- Shi X, Sims MD, Hanna MM, et al. Neutropenia during HIV infection: Adverse consequences and remedies. International Reviews in Immunology. 2014:33(6):511-36. doi:10.3109/08830185.2014.893301
- Hirosawa T, Harada Y, Morinaga K, et al. Eosinopenia as a diagnostic marker of bloodstream infection in a general internal medicine setting: a cohort study. BMC Infectious Disease. 2020;20:85. doi:10.1187/s12879-020-4814-5
- Zidar DA, Al-Kindi SG, Liu Y, et al. Association of lymphopenia with risk of mortality among adults in the US general population. JAMA Network Open. 2019;2(12):e1916526. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.16526
- Tan L, Wang Q, Zhang D, et al. Lymphopenia predicts disease severity of COVID-19: a descriptive and predictive study. Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy. 2020. 5:33 doi:10.1038/s41392-020-0148-4
- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Normal blood counts.
- American Cancer Society. Understanding your lab test results.
- Dale DC. How I diagnose and treat neutropenia. Current Opinions in Hematology. 2016;23(1):1-4. doi:10.1097/MOH.0000000000000208
- Estcourt LJ, Stanworth SJ, Hopewell S, et al. Granulocyte transfusions for treating infections in people with neutropenia or neutrophil dysfunction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016. 2016(4):CD005339. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005339.pub2
- Kliegman, RM, St. Geme, J. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. London, UK: Elsevier Health Sciences; 2019.
- National Cancer Institute. Seer Training Modules. Composition of the blood. Updated 2019.
- Savitskly A, Rudnov V, Bagin V. Eosinopenia as a marker of sepsis and mortality in critically ill patients. Critical Care. 2015;19(Suppl 1): P47. doi:10.1186/cc14127
- Yokus O, Gedik H. Etiological causes of pancytopenia: a report of 137 cases. Avicenna J Med. 2016;6(4):109-112. doi:10.4103/2231-0770.191447
For 15 years, Charis Grey's award-winning work has appeared in film, television, newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. She has worked as a story editor on the CBS drama "Flashpoint" and her work appears bimonthly in "The Driver Magazine." She has a Bachelor of Science in biology and a doctorate in chiropractic medicine from Palmer College.