Treatment For A Low White Blood Cell Count

Low white blood cell count is a condition that creates vulnerability to infections. Understanding its causes as well as the ways by which it can be managed and treated is an important aspect to minimize the health hazards that it creates.
Treatment for a Low White Blood Cell Count
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LEUCOCYTES or the white blood cells are the primary defence of the body against infection by other micro-organisms. Every micro litre of blood contains 4000 to 11000 white blood cells in a normal person. A fall of white blood cell count below 4000 is considered as 'low white blood cell count' or 'LEUCOCYTOPENIA.' The white blood cells include five different types of cells, NEUTROPHILS, LYMPHOCYTES, MONOCYTES, EOSINOPHILS and BASOPHILS. Each of them has its own function. However, since neutrophils make up around 40 to 45 % of all white blood cells, a low white blood count usually means a fall

in the neutrophils count.

Treatment of low white blood cell count depends upon the cause, and often involves managing or curing that cause.

CAUSES OF LOW WHITE CELL COUNT

A reduction in number of white blood cells can be caused by a number of conditions. The most common of them are described here.

(i)  Suppression of the bone marrow as in MYELOFIBROSIS - a condition where bone marrow tissue is replaced by fibrosis, thereby leading to reduced white blood cell formation.

(ii) RADIOTHERAPY or CHEMOTHERAPY for treating cancers, which  in addition to their effect on cancer, also damage normal cells, especially the rapidly replicating cells like red and white blood cells.

(iii) INFECTIONS like TYPHOID, INFLUENZA cause a fall in white blood cells, and are usually reversed after the remission of the infection.

(iv) In auto-immune diseases like SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS the body immunity consisting of white blood cells start attacking body parts, and their count falls.

(v) MEDICATIONS - The most common culprits that lead to fall in white cell counts are IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE DRUGS like SIROLIMUS, MYCOPHENOLATE and TACROLIMUS used in auto-immune diseases or allergies. CLOZAPIN, an antipsychotic medicine and SULPHONAMIDES can also cause this condition.

(vi) MINERAL DEFICIENCY - COPPER, ZINC DEFICIENCY: Deficiency of copper and zinc, which are important trace elements in nutrition, is also

associated with low white blood cell counts.

TREATMENT OF WHITE CELL COUNT

The most important fact that needs to be understood for treating low white blood cell count is that the fall in white blood cell count is only a SIGN of the underlying disease, which can be there in different medical conditions. If the underlying cause is treated, the white cell count may revert to normal.

1.   TREAT THE CAUSE – In case of infections like Typhoid and malaria, treating them will bring white blood cell levels to normal. In case it is caused by medication, stopping that medication would improve counts. In case of any mineral or other nutritional deficiency, it should be supplemented with nutrition.

2.   In case of Myelosuppression, which itself is caused by different diseases, the underlying disease will have to be treated first. MELOID GROWTH FACTOR, FILGRASTIM & PEGIFILGRASTIM are substances that are said to induce formation of red and white cells in the bone marrow, and can be effective.

3.   NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT -  Diet must contain adequate dose of VITAMIN B-12 and FOLIC ACID apart from adequate amount of quality proteins.

4.   STOPPING or POSTPONING radiotherapy or chemotherapy may help in cases where they have lead to low white blood cell count.

MEASURES TO PREVENT INFECTION

Since the most important complication of low white blood cell count is infection, when the ANC falls below 500 / ul, it is advisable to provide a prophylactic antibiotic cover, especially if the person is exposed to infection. Maintenance of proper hygiene is also essential.
 



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