What Is Low white blood cells?
Your blood comprises different kinds of blood cells and the white blood cells (WBC) in your blood are known as leukocytes. The white blood cells help your body to fight infections and diseases and are a very important part of your immune system. When the number of blood cells becomes very low, the condition is known as leukopenia.
There are many kinds of leukopenia, which depends on the type of white blood cells that are low in the blood: neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes. Each of these kinds of white blood cells protects you from different kinds of infections.
For instance, if your blood has a very low count of neutrophils, which are white blood cells that protect your body from bacterial and fungal infections, then the type of leukopenia is known as neutropenia or if you have a low count of lymphocytes that protect you from viral infections, then the kind of leukopenia is called lymphocytopenia.
In general, when adults have a white blood cell count of less than 4,000 white blood cells/microlitre of blood, the white blood cell count is considered to be low. For children, this count varies.
What Are The Symptoms Of Low white blood cells?
The signs of leukopenia are often not noticeable. However, if the white blood cells are very low, it can be a cause of infections and have symptoms like:
- Body aches, headaches
What Are The Causes Of Low white blood cells?
Low white blood cells can be caused due to:
Bone marrow or bone cell conditions
- Aplastic anemia (bone marrow stops making new blood cells)
- Overactive spleen (hypersplenism)
- Myeloproliferative syndrome
- Myelodysplastic syndrome (pre-leukemia)
Cancers and treatment for cancer
- Various kinds of cancers including leukemia.
- Cancer treatments including:
- Bone marrow transplant
- Radiation therapy
- Congenital disorders
- Kostmann syndrome (severe congenital neutropenia)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
- Vitamin B12
- Penicillin, steroids
- Sodium valproate, minocycline (Minocin)
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin), clozapine (Clozaril)
- Lamotrigine (Lamictal), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept)
- Sirolimus (Rapamune), tacrolimus (Prograf)
- Cyclosporine (Sandimmune), interferons
Sarcoidosis (caused due to formation of granulomas in the bone marrow)
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Low white blood cells?
- Keep antibacterial soap in your bathroom and kitchen and wash your hands regularly and thoroughly to avoid germs and infections.
- Keep antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizers in your car to use even when you’re outdoors.
- Prepare your foods well by washing the fruits and vegetables thoroughly, preferably with a brush before cutting them. Cook the foods well.
- Keep the raw poultry and meat away from other foods.
- Use a disinfectant cleaner on all your food preparation and cooking surfaces.
- Keep all cold dishes in the refrigerator until you serve them and heat the dishes before serving.
- When food shopping, pick up the cold foods and dairy products in the end so that they don’t become warm.
- Dry and chapped skin let infections in. So, use plenty of cream or moisturizing lotion on the hands after washing.
- If you are gardening and doing other work that can cause scrapes and cuts, make sure that you use gloves to protect your hands.
- If you get any scratches or cuts, clean them well and apply antiseptic ointment and keep them covered to avoid any infections.
- Sore gums, canker sores, and mouth sores are common areas where infections can occur. Get these treated as soon as they appear.
- Using an electric razor to shave instead of a manual one is less likely to cause cuts.
- When brushing your teeth, use an antibacterial mouthwash.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Low white blood cells?
- Don’t keep leftover foods for more than 24 hours.
- Avoid any dental work when your white blood cell count is low, not even a check-up or cleaning, as it can lead to infections.
- Don’t buy foods in cans that are damaged or dented.
What Are The Best Foods For Low white blood cells?
- Consume foods like mushrooms, dark meat, chicken, etc. that have good quality protein as your body requires the protein and amino acids from the foods to make the white blood cells.
- Have folate, vitamin B12, zinc and selenium supplements, as these minerals and vitamins can help to increase white blood cells.
- Vegetables and fruits like carrots, oranges, melons and green leafy vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, kale, etc. help to increase the white blood cell count.
- Foods like garlic, oysters, spinach, lamb, beef and wheat germ contain zinc that helps to increase the white blood count.
- Foods like beans, spinach, and citrus fruits are a great source of folate needed to increase white blood cells.
- The “good” bacteria present in yogurt helps to improve the immune system and is very good to include in the diet to improve the low white blood cell count.
- Natural products like Astragalus root and green tea can help in increasing the white blood cell count.
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water in a day to flush out the toxins and infections from the body.
What Are The Worst Foods For Low white blood cells?
- When your white blood cell count is low, you become quite susceptible to infections. So, you must avoid all foods that will cause infections.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar like fries, chips, bacon, candy, cakes, etc. as they affect immunity adversely.
- Avoid unpasteurized milk and milk products like raw milk, cheese, and yogurt, soft-serve ice creams and yogurt to protect against any potential infections and illness. Eat packaged ice cream and frozen yogurt instead.
- Avoid all raw vegetables. Avoid raw vegetable sprouts like alfa sprouts, mung sprouts, etc. Avoid thin-skinned fruits like grapes, apples or pears as all these can increase the risk of infections. Opt for ones with thick peels like oranges or bananas. Canned or cooked fruits are also fine.
- Avoid raw or undercooked poultry, fish, shellfish, meat, or eggs. Avoid deli meats that are freshly sliced at the counter, as all these can be contaminated with bacteria and can easily cause infections.
- Avoid eating moldy and soft cheese like feta, brie, blue cheese, etc. Instead, opt for hard cheeses like Parmesan, cheddar, etc.
What Are The Medicines For Low white blood cells?
What Are The Tips To Manage Low white blood cells?
- Follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly and follow proper hygiene and cleanliness, as all this can help to strengthen your immune system and avoid infections.
- If you decide to take any supplements to strengthen your immune system, make sure you consult your doctor first, lest they have adverse effects.
- Reduce stress levels and relax. You could do some meditation and breathing exercises to help you relax.