A low white blood cell count is called leukopenia. Since leukocytes in the body are responsible for protective functions, their low level leads to a decrease in immunity. A strong and prolonged decrease in leukocytes in the blood is dangerous, because at this moment the body can be badly damaged by the simplest infection.
Leukopenia can be divided into two types. At the first one, the formation of leukocytes in the bone marrow is inhibited, while the second one is associated with the destruction of mature leukocytes already in the bloodstream. Why leukocytes in the blood are lowered, and what this means for an adult or a child would be discussed in this article.
Causes of low white blood cells
White blood cells are white blood cells that are necessary to fight infection, bacteria and viruses. They play the main role in the work of immunity and in opposition to various diseases. If the level of these cells deviates from the normal range in one direction or another, this result should be analyzed and corrected.
If we talk about the causes, then we can distinguish three main ones, from which the “ramifications” already occur, including diseases:
- Insufficient amount of substances that are necessary for the synthesis of leukocytes.
- The disappearance of leukocytes in the blood structure.
- Problems with the work of the bone marrow.
Leukopenia indicates the development of a disease. Its presence and provokes the fall of the white bodies. There are several reasons for this condition. Let's talk in more detail about each of them.
Diseases and drugs
Leukocytes in the blood can be lowered due to serious diseases, as well as with long-term use of certain drugs.
- If a person has had flu, malaria, typhoid, measles or rubella.
- After taking a variety of antibiotics, anti-virus drugs, painkillers.
- In oncological diseases, not only the disease itself contributes to the development of leukopenia, but the methods of its treatment also affect the level of white cells in the blood. So, chemotherapy courses destroy them in large quantities.
- With hyperfunction of the thyroid gland and with an excess of hormones, because of this, leukocytes are destroyed.
- Severe infectious processes (sepsis, tuberculosis, brucellosis) and viral lesions (rubella, cytomegalovirus, hepatitis, herpes). In this case, leukopenia is often a poor prognostic factor.
- Parasitic infections, among which can be distinguished toxoplasmosis, trichinosis and chlamydia. In this case, the leukocytes are transferred from the blood to the tissue fluid to combat harmful viruses.
- Autoimmune conditions (systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, etc.).
- In cases of diseases of the spleen and liver, which arose due to improper diet.
The reduction of leukocytes in different situations can be peculiar. To find out the cause of this phenomenon, you need to fully examine.
Lack of substances needed to create new leukocytes
This is the simplest and most common reason. A good doctor pays attention to it even if the white blood cells are normal, but the figure is close to its lower limit. As a rule, this reason does not lead to significant deviations from the norm, and is associated with a drop in red blood indices (erythrocytes, hemoglobin), since for their synthesis the same trace elements and substances are needed:
- vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), folic acid (B9), ascorbic acid (C);
- trace elements: iodine, cobalt, copper, manganese, zinc, iron;
- arachidonic acid, selenium, proteins.
To bring the indicators back to normal, enough to adjust the diet. In the diet should appear the above products rich in substances responsible for the synthesis of leukocytes. If the adjustment of the diet did not help, then the doctor will prescribe drugs that will supply the body with the necessary substances. It should be remembered, if the reduced leukocytes in the blood are held for a long time, then it is necessary to exclude cancer, after passing a more thorough examination.
Leukocyte death in the body
Sometimes there are situations when the body actively creates new white bodies, but they die in the blood. There can be several explanations:
- Normal immune response, redistribution of leukocytes. A pathogenic agent that attempts to destroy leukocytes enters the body locally (through the so-called "entrance gate of infection"). Leukocytes in this case will rush to the damaged tissues, partially leaving the vascular bed. Those. in the body they will continue to act, but in the blood itself the number of leukocytes will fall, and this will affect the results of the analysis.
- Another reason for the reduction of leukocytes in the blood can be their destruction. This happens if the body is poisoned. Toxins can be ingested by micro doses for a long time. For example, from the air, if you live near harmful production. Often they are found in water and food. Heavy metals, insect poisons, fungi that appear on the products stored incorrectly - all this becomes a source of poisoning. Then neutrophils rush to fight poisons and die.
If the percentage of segmented neutrophils is also reduced in the blood test results, then it is most likely a bacterial infectious disease. Viral diseases also cause severe influenza or hepatitis.
Disruption of the bone marrow
Since all subgroups of leukocytes are created and ripen until they reach the blood in the bone marrow, any damage to this organ leads to a drop in the index in the blood test results. It is not so much about physical injuries, but about the factors of internal origin.
There may be a lot of such pathologies, we note only the main ones:
- Intoxication. And it can be as simple poisons, alcohol, nicotine, food poisons, and complex - heavy metals, arsenic, medicinal poisons.
- Autoimmune damage in which the body destroys the cells of its own body, taking them for a disease agent.
- Congenital diseases. The appearance of leukopenia is triggered by certain genetic diseases that affect the normal functioning of the bone marrow and the production of leukocytes (myelokatexis, Kostmann syndrome).
- Conducted treatment. Low white blood cell counts can be triggered by the treatment of some serious diseases (cancers, viral hepatitis).
- Tumor displacement. Metastasis of the tumor in the bone marrow leads to the destruction of the leukopoetic tissue and its replacement with the tumor tissue. Leukopoietic tissue is responsible for the generation of new leukocytes, and its deficiency instantly affects the fall of the indicator in the blood test.
- Chemotherapy, interferon administration - all this is necessary for severe lesions of the body, but it affects the work of the bone marrow.
It should be remembered that such bone marrow pathologies are extremely rare, therefore, with a small decrease in leukocytes, it is too early to sound the alarm.
The norm of leukocytes in the blood is calculated using a special formula and depending on the age it looks like this:
- Adults men and women 4.0-9.0 × 109 / l;
- Children from 6 to 10 years old - 6.0-11.0 × 109 / l;
- Children from 1 to 3 years old - 6.0-17.0 × 109 / l;
- Newborn babies - 9 to 30 × 109 / l.
Leukocytes are divided into granular (granulocytes) and non-granular (agranulocytes) species. If the blood leukocytes are lowered a little, then the decrease is at the level of 1-2 units below the age norm, all that exceeds 2 units is a severe leukopenia.
Blood leukopenia most often accompanies the onset of pathological processes associated with the destruction of white blood cells. For the treatment of this condition, drugs are used, the action of which is aimed at stimulating leukopoiesis. They are divided into two groups:
- To stimulate metabolic processes. These include Pentoxyl, Methyluracil, Leucogen, etc. They have the properties of cell regeneration and the ability to restore immunity at the cellular and humoral level.
- To repeat colony-stimulating factors. This is Sagramostim, Filgrastim, Lenograstim.
Leukopenia should not be categorically taken as an independent disease. However, to eliminate it, it is necessary to eliminate the factor that served as the etiology for obtaining such a blood test. Thus, it is extremely important to contact a specialist to establish the exact cause.
It is worth noting that getting rid of leukopenia is not always possible. For example, if it was caused by excessive taking of dipyrone or sulfonamides, then to normalize the performance of the analysis it is enough to simply refuse to take these medicines, but chemotherapy cannot be stopped. In addition, congenital diseases of the bone marrow of unknown etiology or caused at the genetic level in our days are practically not amenable to treatment, as well as autoimmune pathologies.
How to increase white blood cells at home?
It is possible to increase the level of leukocytes in the blood in a variety of ways, however, diet plays a fundamental role in the process of treatment. As practice shows, without compliance with the diet, it is almost impossible to increase the number of leukocytes, even if you take special medicines. Such a diet is prescribed by the attending physician. Usually, the amount of carbohydrates consumed is limited, instead the diet is enriched with protein foods and vitamins, especially ascorbic and folic acid. You also need to eat foods high in choline and the amino acid lysine.
The main products in the treatment of leukopenia - we increase white blood cells at home:
- Eat more citrus fruits, various berries.
- Useful is the use of bee uterine milk to raise the level of leukocytes. Its quantity should not be too large, depending on the recommendations of the doctor.
- Allowed to drink large amounts of milk and other dairy products.
- Eat more vegetables and legumes, boiled or raw, with high fiber content.
- As additional vitamins, you can use vitamin C, B9 - effectively increase white blood cells.
- Useful barley broth, which is infused for half an hour on the fire to increase the concentration of grain. To do this, one and a half cups of barley should be poured into a two-liter dish and filled with water. Boil on the fire up to half of the boiling away water, and then drain the liquid to drink 200 grams twice a day.
If a low white blood cell count is found, it is recommended to consult a hematologist, a specialist in the treatment of blood diseases, for treatment. A hematologist must find the cause of the leukopenia and prescribe treatment. In some cases, it is necessary to consult an oncologist, an infectious disease specialist or an immunologist.