We know that our blood is made up of different types of blood cells. It includes white blood cells or also known as leukocytes. We know that white blood cells are very important for our immune system. They can help in the fight against diseases and infections. When you have too few white blood cells, then you have a condition known as leukopenia. There are different types of leukopenia. They depend on which type of white blood cell in your blood is low in:
Each of the mentioned types of white blood cells protect the body from different kinds of infections. You have a type of leukopenia known as neutropenia, if your blood is low in neutrophils. These are white blood cells which protect you from fungal and bacterial infections. Often, leukopenia is caused from a decrease in neutrophils which some people use the terms neutropenia and leukopenia interchangeably. Lymphocytopenia is another common type of leukopenia. This is condition when you have too few lymphocytes. These are white blood cells which protect you from viral infections.
Probably, you will not notice any signs of leukopenia. But, if your white cell counts are very low, then you may have signs of infection, such as
- Fever which is higher than 38oC (100.5oF)
You should talk with your doctor about which symptoms you should be careful. If you notice some symptoms of leukopenia, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible.
There are many different conditions and diseases which could lead to leukopenia, such as
These infections can affect the bone marrow or there can be other severe infections which can lead to leukopenia.
This is a systemic illness which is caused an exaggerated immune response. It is characterized by formation of granulomas or small areas of inflammation, which are happening in multiple systems in your body. When these granulomas are forming in your bone marrow, then the leukopenia can happen.
There are many different medications which could lead to leukopenia, such as: steroids; bupropion (Wellbutrin); tacrolimus (Prograf); clozapine (Clozaril); sodium valproate; cyclosporine (Sandimmune); sirolimus (Rapamune); interferons; penicillin; lamotrigine (Lamictal); mycophenolatemofetil (CellCept) and lamotrigine (Lamictal).
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to leukopenia. Some of the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies which lead to leukopenia include zinc, copper, folate and Vitamin B12.
Autoimmune disorders can kill white blood cells or bone marrow cells, which make the blood cells, can also lead to leukopenia. Some of the autoimmune disorders which could lead to leukopenia include rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Some infectious diseases, like tuberculosis and HIV or AIDS, can lead to leukopenia.
It is known that congenital disorders are present at birth. Some congenital problems which can lead to leukopenia include conditions which affect how bone marrow works to make blood cells, such as myelokathexis and Kostmann syndrome, or severe congenital neutropenia.
Cancer and treatments for cancer:
There are different types of cancer, including leukemia, which can lead to leukopenia. Also, cancer treatments can cause leukopenia, such as bone marrow transplant, radiation therapy (especially when it is used on large bones, such as those in your pelvis and legs) and chemotherapy.
Blood cell or bone marrow conditions:
These conditions can also cause leukopenia and some of the most common include: myelofibrosis; aplastic anemia; myeloproliferative syndrome; hypersplenism or overactive spleen; myelodysplastic syndromes.
Every single person that has a condition which can cause leukopenia has a risk of getting it. Usually, the leukopenia does not cause noticeable symptoms. Your doctor will monitor your blood cell counts carefully if you have any of the previous mentioned conditions which can lead to leukopenia. This means that you will undergo frequent blood tests.