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Question: "... My doctor sent me three times to the lab because I have a "slightly lower count of white blood cells". She doesn't tell me what is my blood count. I am worried that I may be ill, have HIV, can you tell me what are my options."
A reduction in the circulating White Blood Count (WBC) to less than 4000 cells per microliter, is referred to as leukopenia.
Leukopenia is usually characterized by a reduced number of blood neutrophils, called neutropenia. That often leads to increased susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections. Blacks have somewhat lower neutrophil counts compared with whites, so find out "how low is your WBC" and which blood cells are affected in particular.
The signs and symptoms of neutropenia depend on its severity. However, patients with even mild forms of neutropenia can develop major problems. Even in the most severe cases, neutropenia may have no signs at all, or it may cause fever and infection.
Neutropenia can be acute (occurring over a few days) when neutrophils are rapidly used and their production is impaired or chronic (lasting months or years) which usually arises from reduced production or excessive destruction of neutrophils in the spleen. Many factors and diseases can cause neutropenia. Here is the list of some:
Drugs are one of the most common causes of neutropenia,
Often as an early feature of megaloblastic anemias caused by vitamin B12 or folate deficiency.
Alcohol may inhibit the response of the marrow to infection in pneumococcal pneumonia.
In leukemia, myeloma, lymphoma, or metastatic solid tumors (eg, breast, prostate) when they infiltrate and replace the bone marrow;
Bone marrow failure, as seen in some rare conditions;
Splenomegaly (increased spleen) of any cause can lead to moderate neutropenia;
Viral infections, eg, early-stage infectious Mononucleosis, Mumps;
Bacterial infections, e.g. Tuberculosis (disseminated) and Typhoid fever;
Fungal infections; in Malaria;
In rare cases neutropenia may be congenital or of unknown cause (idiopathic).
Signs and Symptoms
In chronic neutropenia patients have White Blood Count and differential counts obtained three times a week for 6 weeks to evaluate the cyclic neutropenia.