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Leukopenia (Low white blood cell count)


Leukopenia is a condition in which a person’s white blood cells are less than they should be in their circulation. Complete blood Count (CBC) Test is used to identify leukopenia.

A normal WBC count ranges between 3,500 and 11,000 WBCs per microliter of blood in a healthy person. A person suffering from leukopenia may have less than 3,500 WBCs per microliter of blood in their bloodstream.

WBCs, which are essential for the immune system, are produced in the bone marrow. When there are too few of them, the body’s ability to fight against infections and illnesses is compromised.

Leukocytes are among the several kinds of blood cells that make up the blood. WBCs are a vital component of the immune system since they aid the body in its battle against illnesses and infections.


WBCs are produced in bone marrow, which is a spongy substance that can be found within the bigger bones. Viral infections that cause the bone marrow to temporarily halt its function may result in low production of WBCs. certain bone marrow abnormalities that manifest themselves at birth (congenital) and include impaired bone marrow function are also associated with low WBC count. Examples include cancer and other disorders that affect the bone marrow.

Following are the causes of low WBC count:

Viral Infections: Transient leukopenia may be caused by acute viral infections like influenza and cold. A viral infection may damage a person’s bone marrow’s ability to produce WBCs thus resulting in low WBC count.

Bone marrow conditions: Leukopenia is a condition that may be caused by a number of different blood cells as well as bone marrow abnormalities. Examples of such disorders include an overactive spleen, myelodysplastic syndrome and aplastic anemia.

Cancer: Leukemia and other tumors may cause bone marrow destruction, which can result in leukopenia i.e. low white blood cell count.

Autoimmune illnesses: Some of these conditions cause WBCs to be destroyed. Rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus are two examples of autoimmune diseases causing low WBC count.

Congenital diseases: Infections caused by birth defects, often known as congenital diseases, may result in leukopenia. Myelokathexisand Kostmann syndrome are two examples of such conditions linked with low WBC.

Sarcoidosis: It is an immune system overreaction that causes tiny pockets of inflammation throughout the body. It is caused by a bacterial infection. It may also have an effect on the bone marrow.

Malnutrition: Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals may cause leukopenia to develop. Deficits in folate, copper, zinc, and vitamin B-12, are examples of such deficiencies.

Therapy and Medicines: A person’s WBC count can be reduced as a result of cancer therapy. 

Following are the examples that affect the WBC count:

Radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplantation

Moreover, the quantity of WBCs in a person’s blood can be reduced due to the use of certain drugs like steroids, immunosuppressants and interferons. Antibiotics and other medications can also cause WBCs to be destroyed


Reduced numbers of disease-fighting WBCs in the blood (leukopenia) indicate that you are suffering from a virus or other infection.

The majority of the time, you will not notice any indicators of leukopenia. However, if your WBCs are really low, you may be showing indications of infection, such as:

Inquire with your doctor about what to look out for. If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, consult the doctor immediately.

In most cases, a low white blood cell count is discovered when the doctor requests testing for an illness that the person is already suffering from. Consult with your doctor about the significance of the test findings. A low WBC count, in conjunction with the findings of other tests, may already be able to pinpoint the source of the disease. Alternatively, the doctor may recommend further tests to better evaluate the situation.


Doctors use complete blood counts (CBCs) to diagnose leukopenia. If they suspect you have an infection, they may perform more tests. These tests could include:

Urine Tests: These tests can help doctors figure out what’s causing your infection.

Chest X-ray: They may conduct this test if they suspect you have pneumonia.


Infection prevention is especially important when neutropenia is severe or chronic, such as when suffering from autoimmune neutropenia or when taking chemotherapy.

Prophylactic (preventive) medications to lower the chance of bacterial infection, as well as G-CSF (granulocyte colony-stimulating factor), a medicine that stimulates the development of white blood cells in the bone marrow, may be used in these circumstances.

When leukopenia is minor, or the underlying cause is acute (short-lived), such as a viral infection, therapy concentrates on eradicating the condition and minimizing infection-related consequences such as sepsis. WBCs levels should return to normal after effective leukopenia treatment.

When To See A Doctor

If you are aware that you have a medical condition or are taking medicine that might impair your body’s capacity to fight infections, you should speak with your doctor about steps you can take to prevent a serious infection from occurring.

If your white blood cell count is low and you suspect you may have an infection, call your healthcare professional as soon as possible.

If you encounter any of the following leukopenia symptoms, call your doctor or get treatment right away:

  • Fever
  • Difficult breathing
  • Extreme sluggishness
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Confusion


This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about Leukopenia or any other medical condition, please see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment suggestions.