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Low White Blood Cell Count


Question Posted Tuesday April 21 2009, 5:52 pm

What does it mean to have a low white blood cell count. Is it leukemia or anemia??? or can it be just a condition and not a disease??

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karenR answered Wednesday April 22 2009, 7:30 am:
It is a symptom & not a disease.

A low white blood cell count usually is caused by one of the following:

* Viral infections that disrupt bone marrow function
* Congenital disorders characterized by diminished bone marrow function
* Cancer or other diseases that damage bone marrow
* Autoimmune disorders that destroy white blood cells or bone marrow cells
* Overwhelming infections that use up white blood cells faster than they can be produced
* Drugs that destroy white blood cells or damage bone marrow

Specific causes of low white blood cell count include:

* Allergy, especially severe allergic reactions
* Aplastic anemia
* Chemotherapy: Drug treatment uses chemicals to kill cancer cells
* Drugs, such as antibiotics, diuretics and prednisone
* HIV/AIDS
* Histoplasmosis
* Hypersplenism, a premature destruction of blood cells by the spleen
* Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
* Infectious diseases
* Kostmann's syndrome, a congenital disorder involving low neutrophil production
* Leukemia
* Lupus
* Myelodysplastic syndromes
* Myelofibrosis
* Myelokathexis, a congenital disorder involving failure of neutrophils to enter the bloodstream
* Other autoimmune disorders
* Other congenital disorders
* Parasitic diseases
* Radiation therapy
* Rheumatoid arthritis
* Vitamin deficiencies

REF: [Link](Mouse over link to see full location)

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ThirdQED answered Wednesday April 22 2009, 7:02 am:
Hello,

Low white blood cell does NOT mean leukemia or anemia.

First, let's take a quick look at our medical terminology, shall we? =)

"Leuk-" is a prefix that means "white"
"-emia" is a suffix that means "blood"
"an-" is a prefix that means "without"
"-cyte" is a suffix that means "cell"


Now that you are familiar with the terminology, let's go into the explanation =D

--"Leukemia" is A TYPE OF CANCER where the bone marrow produces abnormal leukocytes (abnormal white blood cells). Overtime, the rapid increase of abnormal leukocytes overwhelms your normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. In other words, the abnormal leukocytes CROWD OUT the normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

--"anemia" is the condition where the RED BLOOD CELLS count is abnormally less than normal.


So what's "low white blood cell count" anyway?

"Leukopenia" (-penia is a suffix that means deficiency) is the medical word for low white blood cells count (deficiency of white blood cells).

Leukopenia is NOT a disease itself, so yes, it is a condition. However, it suggests that something might have gone wrong, and I suggest that you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Also, Leukopenia increases your risk of being affected by various diseases because your disease-fighting cells (your leukocytes [white blood cells]) is abnormally lower than normal.


Source: some knowledge from the medical classes that I am taking (and has taken).


Hope this helped,
Ng2491

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