When your white blood cell count is lower than what's considered normal, you suffer from a condition known as leucopenia, which weakens your body's ability to fight infection. According to a SteadyHealth.com article, the normal level for white blood cells is between 4,300 and 10,000 per cubic millimeter of blood. Typically people experience a drop in white blood cells when undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments for various types of cancers. Diseases such as Wilson's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma during pregnancy can also lower white blood counts.
Types of White Blood Cells
There are five different types of normal white blood cells including lymphocytes, neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils. While some white blood cell disorders pertain to only one type of white blood cell, others may involve several or all of them. The most common disorders are those involving neutrophils and lymphocytes.
Drugs such as Pegfilgrastim and Filgrastim are often prescribed for treating low white cell counts. Described as "growth factors", they contain cytokines, which increase the number of white blood cells in bone marrow. Other drugs that can help increase the number of white blood cells include epinephrine, aspirin, allopurinol, heparin, corticosteroids, chloroform, and quinine. Drugs preventing sharp count drops in white blood cells include Leukine, Sargramostim, and Filgrastim. Medications such as Gancioclovir or Acyclovir can help avoid particular viral infections.
When your immune system is suppressed because of chemotherapy or particular drugs, doctors may prescribe antimicrobial medicines or substances that slow down or kill escalating bacteria or microbes. A few include Flucanozole, Sulfamethoxazole, Filgrastim and Intraconzole.
Injections and IVs
Sometimes when managing a patient's low blood cell count due to cancer treatments, doctors order an injection treatment or one given intravenously (IV). Treatments such as these involve particular proteins that can enable the blood marrow to produce more white blood cells, as well as red blood cells or platelets. These growth factors allow the body to function when it's healthy.
Personal Hygiene and Precautions
When your white blood cells are low, take extra care in your personal hygiene habits to lower the threat of infection. Besides washing your hands, cleanse your mouth several times daily by using a fresh antiseptic mouthwash. Keep your fingernails neatly trimmed, yet be cautious not to trim nails so short they bleed. Discuss with your doctor ways for not contracting diseases. Protect yourself with vaccines to prevent serious infections prior to the flu season.
Wear a surgical face mask in public crowded environments such as an airport. Because fresh plants, flowers or fruit can be carriers of fungi and bacteria, avoid them. Look for scratches and cuts that need cleaning, and if you do get cut, apply new dressings at least once daily.