Do you have leukopenia and wondering what it means and some of the cause for why? Leukopenia means you have an abnormally low white blood cell count. White blood cells are part of your immune system and these cells circulate around fighting infections and diseases.
There are a couple subtypes of white blood cells, each with different activity. So after leukopenia is found, a white blood cell differential count is performed to determine the actual subset(s) that is low. The five major types of white blood cells are:
The type that’s most commonly low are neutrophils. This is why leukopenia and neutropenia are sometimes used interchangeably. And the flip side of leucopenia is leukocytosis.
The fundamental causes for a low white blood cell count are usually:
- liver disease
- spleen problems
- bone marrow failure
- congenital disorders
- autoimmune disorders
- overwhelming infections
- collagen vascular diseases
- diseases that damage bone marrow
Some of the specific health conditions that might be causing your leukopenia low white blood cell count are:
- aplastic anemia
- allergic reaction
- Fanconi anemia
- anorexia nervosa
- multiple myeloma
- rheumatoid arthritis
- anaphylactic shock
- parasite infection ~ malaria
- radiation therapy, exposure
- myelodysplastic syndromes
- chemical exposure, poisoning ~ benzene, arsenic
- salmonella , tuberculosis, typhus bacterial infections
- malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies ~ folate, copper, zinc
- hepatitis, mononucleosis, rubella, Dengue viral infections
In addition, numerous medications can cause leukopenia. Drugs that could lower your white blood cell count include:
- antithyroid drugs
- chemotherapy drugs D-penicillamine ~ chelating agent to treat Wilson’s disease
It is not confirmed, but long term use of echinacea may cause leucopenia as well.
Chronic leukopenia means your low white blood cell count is lasting over 3 months. And because a chronically low white blood cell count makes you more vulnerable to infections, you’ll need to take precautions to avoid contracting an infectious disease. As such, wash your hands often and bypass large crowds of children.