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The Causes of a Low Blood Count

By Chris Sherwood ; Updated July 27, 2017


Your blood cells play an important role in each system and function of your body. Blood cells fall into one of two categories, white blood cells and red blood cells. Red blood cells primarily transport life-sustaining oxygen to cells throughout the body. White blood cells primarily deal with your immune system's ability to fight off infection and disease. When either blood cell number drops below normal levels, it is often a sign of a more serious condition affecting the body.


Anemia is one of the most common causes for a low blood count level. Anemia occurs when the red blood cells are not healthy enough, or are not in great enough number, to supply enough oxygen to the tissues of the body. As a result, the body has problems functioning, and also has difficulty obtaining energy to perform its necessary functions.

Auto Immune

Another common cause for a low blood count are auto immune disorders. Auto immune disorders are diseases that turn the body against itself. As a result, one of the first side effects of the disorder is a drop in white blood cells. The most common auto immune disorders that cause this issue are the human immunodeficiency virus and the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).


Treatments for cancer are also a common cause of a low blood count. Both chemotherapy and radiation effect the production of white blood cells in the bone marrow. Since both treatment methods target cells that multiply at an increased rate, and both cancer cells and bone marrow cells fit this description, both can be negatively affected. Luckily, in most cancer treatment cases, white blood cell counts rebound after the bone marrow has had time to heal. Because of the dangers associated with having too low of a white blood cell count, most cancer treatments have breaks between sessions to give the bone marrow time to heal, and for white blood cell counts to rise.


Not eating a proper diet with the right mixture of vitamins and minerals can also cause a drop in blood cell count. Vitamins and minerals such as iron, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, are all important components for the creation of both red and white blood cells. Without adequate levels of these components, the body may have difficulty producing the necessary amounts of blood cells needed for the body to function correctly.

Bone Marrow

Bone marrow diseases and deficiencies may also cause a low blood count. The bone marrow is responsible for the production of the largest percentage of the immune system's white blood cells. Diseases and disorders such as leukemia, myeloproliferative disorders and lymphoma can all affect the ability of bone marrow to produce white blood cells.

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