A low white blood cell count is the decrease in the cells that fight diseases. The condition is called as leukopenia. The standards for the low white blood cells vary slightly with the medical practices. A low white blood cell count in adults is defined as lower than 3,500 white blood cells per micro-liter of blood. The condition varies according to age and sex. The white blood cells are of different subtypes with varying activities of fighting diseases. If you have a low white blood cell count then possibly you have a low count of possibly only one white blood cell type. A laboratory test will determine the percentage of each type of the white blood cell and which is less in quantity.
Reduction in the white blood cells is a result of a number of conditions. Some of the most common causes of low white blood cell count:
• Bone Marrow Suppression: White blood cells are generated in the bones and the reduction in the production of the cells can result from any condition affecting the bones. Myelofibrosis is a condition where the bone marrow is replaced by fibrosis and this is one of the most common forms leading to reduction in the production of white blood cells. The other causes of bone suppression include chemotherapy or radiotherapy for treating cancer; aplastic anemia where cell production is decreased because of the different causes and leukemia where the cancerous cells occupy bone marrow causing problem in the production of white blood cells.
• Infections: Influenza and typhoid are some infections that lower the white blood cell count significantly. The count is usually restored after the condition is reversed. At times, it can also be because of rickettsial infection. Some of the other medical conditions include tuberculosis and dengue fever.
• Auto Immune Diseases: Conditions like Lupus Erythematosus involve a condition where the white blood cells start attacking the body and in this process the count of the white blood cells also falls.
• Medicines: The immunosuppressive drugs are the most common drugs that cause a fall in the white blood cell count. Some of these drugs include Mycophenolate, Sirolimus and Tacrolimus. These drugs are used in cases of allergies or autoimmune diseases. The other drugs include Clozapin, which is an anti-psychotic drug. At times sulphonamides can also cause this condition.
• Deficiency of Minerals: Deficiency of copper and zinc that are important trace elements required for maintaining proper balance of the white blood cells can also lead to lowering of the white blood cell count.
• Other Conditions: There are other conditions that are not very common conditions like Bracken fern poisoning that can also cause a fall in the white blood cells.
Getting a total leukocyte count done is the best way to determine the cause of the disease. When a low white blood cell count is determined it indicates at further investigations and analysis that need to be conducted. A thorough medical check up would determine the exact cause behind the lowering of the white blood cell count.