Reasons for Low White Blood Cells
Low white blood cells can be the result of a variety of diseases. A decrease in your white blood cells means your ability to fight infections is decreased. Leukopenia is the medical term for low white blood cells. It may be caused by congenital disorders, viral disease, some cancers, certain drugs or autoimmune disorders.
HIV and AIDS can cause a low white blood cells count. The human immunodeficiency virus is called HIV and the full blown disease is called AIDS. HIV/AIDS is caused through sexual transmission, needle sharing, unsterilized medical or dental equipment and can be passed from mother to unborn child. You are at a higher risk of some kinds of some cancers and a large number of infections. It can lead to infections such as bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, herpes simplex, cryptococcal meningitis and toxoplasmosis. Cancers include non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Leukemia is cancer of your lymphatic system and bone marrow. With this disease, your bone marrow forms an abundance of abnormal white blood cells. You may experience symptoms of fatigue, weakness, fever and chills, swollen lymph nodes, repeated infections, weight loss, loss of appetite, excessive perspiration and shortness of breath. Leukemia may be treated with chemotherapy, radiation or a bone marrow transplant.
Aplastic anemia occurs when there is damage to your bone marrow that hinders its ability to produce new blood cells, including white blood cells. It can be the result of an autoimmune disorder, chemotherapy, radiation, toxic chemicals, some drugs or a viral infection. You may experience symptoms that include fatigue, rapid pulse, heart murmur, pale skin, dizziness, skin rash, dizziness, easy bruising, prolonged bleeding from injuries and persistent infections. Treatment may include transfusions of blood, packed red cells, platelets, immunosuppressents, antibiotics, antivirals, bone marrow stimulant drugs or a bone marrow transplant.
Hyperthyroidism is a an overactive thyroid that can result in a low white blood count. Your thyroid gland produces too much thryoxine, which a hormone that regulates your metabolism. Hyperthyroidism may be caused by an autoimmune disorder, Grave’s disease, inflammation of the thyroid gland, hyper-functioning thyroid nodules or thyroiditis. Symptoms may include weight loss in spite of an increased appetite, rapid heartbeat, excessive perspiration, fatigue, anxiety, sleeping disorders, changes in your bowel habits and sensitivity to heat. It may be treated with beta blockers, anti-thyroid medications, radioactive iodine or surgery.
Low white blood cells may be caused by congenital disorders such as Kostmann’s syndrome and myelokathexis. Kostmann’s syndrome is decreased production of neutrophils. Myelokathexis is a condition where neutrophils do not enter your bloodstream. Neutrophils comprise between 45 and 75 percent of your white blood cells, according to Merck.
Autoimmune disorders may be responsible for a low white blood cell count. Two examples are rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of your joints, swelling, pain and eventually deformities of your joints. Lupus is a condition of chronic inflammation of your kidneys, joints, skin, blood cells, heart and lungs. Treatment for both disorders may include immunosuppressents and pain relievers.