Our blood is a red-coloured fluid that flows in the arteries and veins in the body. But, did you know that blood is made up of different types of cells? The three primary cell types that make up blood include red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Of these, the white blood cells or WBC are responsible for fighting infections and protecting your body from harmful microbes. Before we understand more about white blood cell treatment, we must know that there are five different types of white blood cells, namely basophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, monocytes and neutrophils.
Any of the above-mentioned white blood cell types can increase or decrease in number. An abnormal increase in WBCs is called leukocytosis whereas an abnormal decrease is termed leukopenia. Both these conditions can cause an impact on your health and you may require WBC treatment from a hematology doctor (or a haematologist).
‘Normal’ WBC counts depends upon the age and gender of the individual:
- Men: 5,000 to 10,000 per mL of blood
- Women: 4,500 to 10,000 per mL of blood
- Children: 5,000 to 10,000 per mL of blood
The causes for low and elevated WBC counts are usually different.
What Causes Low WBC Count?
When your WBC count is less than the normal range, you are said to have leukopenia. A blood test is the best way to determine your number of WBCs. When you have a low WBC count, your body is at an increased risk of infection. So, you must take extra precautions to practice good personal hygiene and follow a healthy lifestyle.
Since neutrophils are the most abundant WBCs in blood, in most cases, a low neutrophil count is termed leukopenia. Some conditions that cause a low count are:
People who suffer from alcoholism often have lower than normal WBC counts. This is because alcohol interferes with nutrient absorption, which has a direct effect on the production of WBCs.
Some infections, especially viral infections, can impact your bone marrow and reduce your WBC count. A few severe blood infections use up a lot of WBCs, reducing their count. A few infections target a specific type of WBC and reduce their numbers in the body.
In autoimmune disorders, the body’s immune system attacks its own cells giving rise to conditions and diseases like Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and others. Autoimmune diseases that target WBCs or a specific type of WBCs, bring down their number.
Bone Marrow Disorders
Your bone marrow is the factory for blood production. When diseases affect the bone marrow, they cause a reduction in RBC, WBC and platelet counts.
Some drugs like antibiotics can kill WBCs, reducing their overall count.
Chemotherapy And Radiation Therapy
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause a reduction in WBC count.
Malnutrition and deficiency of vitamins like vitamin B12 and folic acid affect the body’s WBC production, causing reduced counts.
Apart from your bone marrow, your spleen also makes WBCs. When infections or blood clots cause spleen enlargement, it can bring down your white blood cell count.
What Causes High WBC Count?
Some conditions that can cause a high WBC count are:
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Inflammation in the body
- Stress (physical and emotional)
- Immune system disorders
- Thyroid conditions
- Some medications
- Spleen removal
- Serious conditions like leukaemias, lymphomas, and bone marrow disorders
Treatment For Deranged WBC Count
The primary goal of any white blood cell treatment is to restore the WBC count to normal. The time taken for the WBC count to return to normal depends upon the cause of the deranged count.
In patients undergoing chemotherapy, neutrophils begin to drop and reach their lowest number around 7 to 14 days after treatment. The amount of WBC reduction also depends upon the dosage of chemotherapy given. After this, the neutrophil levels begin to rise and take around 3 to 4 weeks to come to normal levels. In these patients, once their neutrophil count is restored to normal, they are ready for their next cycle of chemotherapy.
For your WBC count to return to normal, the body must provide a conducive environment. This can be done by eating a healthy diet that encourages healthy WBC count, avoiding foods or beverages that can disrupt the count and practising a healthy and active lifestyle.
For most people, the average time in which their WBC count returns to normal is around three to four weeks. However, this time depends upon many lifestyles, dietary and bodily factors that are subjective to each person. What is essential to note is that an abnormally low or high WBC count can cause disorders or conditions in the body and therefore, every attempt should be made to restore their numbers.
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