Signs & Symptoms of Low White Cell Count

White blood cells (WBCs) are one of the two types of blood cells present in the human body (the other is red blood cells.) Called leukocytes, these cells have the primary function of fighting infections. There is a broad range to the value of normal levels of white blood cells, varying between 4,300 and 10,800 cells per cubic ml of blood. A low volume of leukocytes in the body is a count that is anywhere less than this range. This condition, called leukopenia, is easy to define but difficult to diagnose. Its symptoms and signs are usually very minor and can be mistaken for other signs of infection.


According to the University of Virginia School of Medicine, a drop in the count of one of the main leukocytes, called neutrophils, is the main sign of low white cell count. This condition is known as neutropenia. Neutrophils are the cells that protect the body from major infections, such as fungal and bacterial infections. However, people without leukopenia can temporarily have all the symptoms of neutropenia if they are sick and the neutrophils temporarily drop. A doctor has to determine whether neutropenia is actually a symptom of a low white blood cell count using a series of tests.

Feelings of Illness

Signs & Symptoms of Low White Cell Count

Learn More

The main symptoms caused by a low white cell count include occasional fever, consistent chills, discomfort and a sore throat, reports the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Other symptoms include fatigue and weakness. These are all signs of an infection or other illnesses.

Difficulty Fighting Infection

According to Thinkquest, some of the other symptoms of low white blood cell count include an inability to fight off infections, liver abscesses, pneumonia, oral ulcers and stomatitis. While these conditions can occur even if you don't have a low white blood cell count, those with a low level of white cells are especially prone to these problems.