Minus/plus icon
ResourcesExplore the full ACKO experience and make the most of your plan

Home / Health Insurance / Articles / Diseases / Low White Blood Cell Count: Meaning, symptoms, causes & treatment

Low White Blood Cell Count: Meaning, symptoms, causes & treatment

Team AckoJun 23, 2024

A Low White Blood Cell Count (LWBCC), also known as leukopenia, occurs when the body doesn't produce enough white blood cells. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as viral infections, autoimmune disorders, or certain medications. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause, but may include medications, lifestyle changes, or therapeutic interventions. It's important to speak with a healthcare provider if you suspect you may have a LWBCC. Read on to get an overview of leukopenia along with frequently asked questions.




White Blood Cells and their importance

White blood cells (WBCs), are essential components of the immune system. They play a critical role in defending the body against infections and diseases.

There are several types of WBCs, which are as follows.

  • Neutrophils: These cells are the first responders to infections.

  • Lymphocytes: They help the body remember and recognise previous invaders.

  • Monocytes: These cells break down and eliminate dead cells and foreign particles.

  • Eosinophils: These cells fight against parasites and help control allergic reactions.

  • Basophils: They play a role in the body's response to inflammation.

Without white blood cells, the body would not be able to defend itself against harmful pathogens and diseases. When the body detects an infection, white blood cells are the first responders. They work to identify and destroy the invading pathogens, as well as remove any dead cells and debris from the affected area. White blood cells also play a crucial role in the body's long-term immune response by creating antibodies that recognise and fight off future infections.

Signs and symptoms of Low White Blood Cell Count

Here is a list of symptoms of LWBCC.

  • Frequent infections

  • Long-lasting infections

  • Fever

  • Skin inflammation or boils

  • Painful swelling in the joints

  • Sores in the mouth or throat

  • Unusual fatigue or tiredness

  • Easy bruising or bleeding

  • Sinus infections that keep coming back

  • Pneumonia that keeps coming back

  • Digestive issues and abdominal pain

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Allergic reactions

Causes of Low White Blood Cell Count

There are several factors that can contribute to a LWBCC. Some common causes include the following.

  • Viral infections, such as HIV or hepatitis

  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

  • Radiation or chemotherapy treatments for cancer

  • Bone marrow disorders, such as leukaemia or myelodysplastic syndromes

  • Medications that suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids or chemotherapy drugs

  • Poor nutrition

Risks of having Low White Blood Cell Count

LWBCC can lead to an increased risk of infections, as the immune system is compromised. Some of the risks associated with this condition are as follows.

  • Increased susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections

  • Difficulty fighting off infections

  • Longer recovery time from illnesses

  • Increased risk of developing sepsis, a life-threatening infection


There are several methods to diagnose LWBCC, including the following.

  • Blood tests which measure the number of WBCs in the bloodstream.

  • Bone marrow biopsy which examines the bone marrow where white blood cells are produced.

  • Genetic testing which looks for inherited conditions that can lead to a low white blood cell count.

Treatment of Low White Blood Cell Count

Here are some tips on how to treat a LWBCC.

  • Identify the underlying cause: The best way to treat low white blood cell count is to identify and treat the underlying cause, whether it is medication side effects, autoimmune disorders, or cancer treatments.

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications such as growth factors or antibiotics to help raise your white blood cell count.

  • Dietary changes: Consuming a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help improve your white blood cell count.

  • Lifestyle changes: Practising good hygiene and avoiding contact with sick individuals can help prevent infection and promote healing.

  • Alternative therapies: Some people find that supplements such as vitamin C or herbal remedies like echinacea can help boost their immune systems. However, always talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements or alternative therapies.

  • Medical procedures: In some cases, medical procedures such as bone marrow transplants or blood transfusions may be necessary to increase the white blood cell count.

Ways to Prevent Low White Blood Cell Count

Here are a few things you can do to prevent this condition.

  • Avoid exposure to toxins: Certain chemicals and substances can damage white blood cells. Avoiding exposure to such toxins can help prevent low WBC.

  • Manage chronic conditions: Chronic health conditions such as HIV or lupus can lead to a low WBC count. Proper management and treatment of these conditions can help prevent LWBCC.

  • Get regular check-ups: Regular blood tests can detect a LWBCC before symptoms appear. It is important to get regular check-ups and blood tests to monitor your WBC count and catch any potential issues early on.

Things to consider if you have a Low White Blood Cell Count

Keep the following things in mind if you have a LWBCC.

  • Be careful around sick people.

  • Wash your hands frequently.

  • Avoid large crowds.

  • Be cautious when travelling.

  • Stay away from animals that may carry diseases.

  • Practise good oral hygiene.

  • Take care when handling food.

  • Avoid contact with mould or mildew.

  • Consider wearing a mask in situations where you are at risk of infection.

Precautions to take if you have a Low White Blood Cell Count

Here’s a list of things to be cautious of if you have a LWBCC. 

  • Avoid contact sports or activities that may result in injury.

  • Ensure that all cuts, scrapes, and wounds are cleaned and covered properly.

  • Talk to your doctor about vaccinations and whether they are safe for you.

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to boost your immune system.

  • Get enough rest and avoid stress as much as possible.

  • Take any medications prescribed by your doctor as directed.

Tips for staying healthy with a Low White Blood Cell Count

Here are some additional things you can do to protect your health and stay well.

  • Keep your living spaces clean and well-ventilated.

  • Use insect repellent to prevent insect bites.

  • Be careful when handling soil or gardening.

  • Stay up-to-date with your medical care and tests.

  • Consider enlisting the help of family and friends to reduce your risk of exposure to illnesses.

  • Stay informed and educated about your condition and any new developments or treatments that may become available.

Remember, taking these precautions can help protect your health and reduce your risk of infection. Always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about your condition or treatment plan.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some common questions and answers related to Low White Blood Cell Count


What are the potential complications of a Low White Blood Cell Count?

The following are potential complications of a LWBCC.

  • Increased susceptibility to infections

  • Difficulty fighting infections

  • Delayed healing

  • Higher chances of getting fever and chills

  • Increased risk of fatigue and weakness

How to increase white blood cell count?

Ways to increase White Blood Cell Count are as follows.

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet

  • Get enough sleep and manage stress

  • Exercise regularly

  • Avoid smoking and excessive drinking

  • Take supplements or medications as recommended by a doctor

How to read a white blood cell count?

When reviewing a cell count, the total number of WBCs is important, as well as the levels of other types of WBCs. Elevated levels of certain types of blood cells can indicate specific conditions.

Are there any types of cancer associated with white blood cells?

There are several types of cancer associated with white blood cells, which are as follows.

  •  Leukaemia

  •  Lymphoma

  •  Multiple myeloma

  •  Myelodysplastic syndrome

When should I see a doctor?

If you experience any symptoms such as fever, fatigue, unusual bruising, or persistent infections, it is important to see a doctor to have your white blood cell count checked. Furthermore, those undergoing treatment for cancer or other diseases that may affect immune function should regularly monitor their white blood cell count. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect any issues with your white blood cell count, as prompt treatment can greatly improve outcomes.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


Want to post any comments?


Protect your health with our comprehensive disease 🦠 coverage

✅ 100% Room Rent Covered* ✅ Zero deductions at claims ✅ 7100+ Cashless Hospitals

quote icon

Check health insurance

quote icon