Leukocytopenia / Leukopenia is the decrease in the count of white blood cells. In this article, I will tell you in detail about this disorder. It will help you to deal with this condition properly, preventing severe conditions.
All the white blood cells present in your body are known as leukocytes. They are a major constituent of your immune system. They protect your body from harmful microorganisms which can cause various diseases in your body.
WBC are present in a particular range of number. This into or number plays a vital role in maintaining the health of your body.
In case you realize that you suffer from acute Leukopenia, I will advise you to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
What Is Leukopenia?
When there is an abrupt decrease in white blood cells present in your body, it is known as Leukopenia. It is a sudden change which can happen to anyone. In this, when the WBC count decreases, your body becomes prone to infections and diseases.
However, I believe that this condition is more of a consequence than a cause.
Everybody’s WBC count differs according to their age and body. Everybody has a different resistive power. Hence, It is practically not possible to suggest a referral number.
What Are The Causes Of Leukopenia?
This condition is an indication of your body having some severe infection, deficiencies, and diseases. Hence, you will never get a full picture of leukopenia until you know all the causes of it.
So, Here is a complete list of all the possible causes that are responsible for Leukopenia.
i.Bone Marrow Suppression
Sometimes your body is exposed to certain chemicals or toxins, cancer chemotherapy, radiation therapy and certain drugs. These agents then cause a decrease in production of all the cells in the bone marrow.
This condition further leads to Leukopenia and Anemia (low number of red blood cell production and platelets).
ii. Bone Marrow Diseases
In some cases, your bone marrow does not produce sufficient WBCs. It selectively produces the excess of one type of WBC leading to a lack of other types. This leads to causing Leukopenia in your body.
The reasons for this suppression could be a deficiency of vitamin B12 or replacement of your bone marrow by fibrous tissues.
iii. Bone Marrow Cancers
Cancers which spreads to your bone marrow may lead to leukopenia. It is likely to happen if you are Lymphoma or a cancer patient.
iv. Anti Immune Disorders
This occurs when your body fails to recognize its cells and begins to attack them. In cases of leukopenia, the body’s WBC’s are perceived as foreign and attack.
The condition is called lupus or Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This further leads to Leukopenia in your body.
Severe bacterial and viral infections lead to an abrupt decrease in WBC in your body, causing Leukopenia. It is also known as sepsis.
The organ which is responsible for production and removal of blood cells is called spleen. It forms a crucial part of immune system.
Sometimes this spleen gets enlarged, It starts destroying the blood cells. This further causes Leukopenia in your body.
vii. Diseases Of Immune System
Diseases like HIV kills your immune system. This results in a decrease of WBCs in your body causing Leukopenia.
This occurs at an initial phase of a particular infection. The leukocytes (predominately neutrophils) are responsible for the initial reaction to an infection in your body.
After an infection, these cells gather around the margins of your blood vessels and scan the site of infection. Thus, there is increased WBC production at that particular location. Although, it appears low from a blood sample. This is because the blood sample is of core blood and not of the site of infection. This is further seen as Leukocytopenia in your body.
ix. Other Conditions
Other conditions like thyroid disorders, aplastic anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, parasitic infestations, vitamin deficiencies, mineral deficiencies of copper and zinc, typhoid, malaria, influenza, dengue, Rickettsial infections, tuberculosis, etc. can also cause Leukocytopenia in your body.
Many medications and drugs can cause the reduction of WBCs in your body. This can make you vulnerable to having Leukopenia. This medicine can be listed as follows :
- Antipsychotic drugs like clozapine. It causes total eradication of all granulocytes in your blood.
- Bupropion HCl. It is an antidepressant and is used for smoking addiction treatment. It leads to decrease in leukocytes after prolonged use.
- Drugs used for mania, migraine, and epilepsy-like valproic acid and lamotrigine can also cause leucopenia.
- A common antibacterial drug, metronidazole, also leads to decreased WBCs.
- Many immuno-suppressive drugs like sirolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, tacrolimus, cyclosporine, leflunomide and many TNF inhibitors can lead to leucopenia.
- Interferon proteins like Rebif, Avonex, and Betaseron can lead to leukopenia. These medicines are used commonly in multiple sclerosis treatments.
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for treating cancer can severely decrease the leukocytes in the body. It is a major part of treatment for cancer in which total count of Neutrophils or Neutropenia decreases.
What Are The Symptoms/Sign Of Leukopenia?
i. Anemia: When a person shows symptoms of iron deficiency.
ii. Thrombocytopenia: Decrease in platelet count due to damage in bone marrow.
iii. Pneumonia: Inflammation of lungs due to bacteria or virus is called pneumonia.
iv. Stomatitis: Inflammation of the mucous lining of gums, cheeks, lips, tongue, etc.
v. Liver abscesses: Bacterial infection in the liver.
vi. Menorrhagia: Prolonged and heavy menstruation.
vii. Metrorrhagia: Infective bleeding from the uterus.
viii. Neurasthenia: fatigue, fever, headache, irritability and hot flashes
ix. Oral ulcer: Inflammation of papillae of the throat or tongue.
x. Strong desire to consume hot drinks
Is There Any Prevention For Leukopenia?
Yes, there are some preventive methods for Leukopenia. They are completely dependent on your daily lifestyle and hygiene methods. These methods are not guaranteed to prevent this decrease in WBC. However, they can help prevent some severe infections :
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Wear mask and gloves wherever possible.
- Use body lotion on your body after every wash as dry skin is more susceptible to infections.
- Avoid going to large crowds (this may contain infected people).
- Stay away from sharp objects which can cause injury.
- In case of trauma or wounds, seek medical attention immediately.
- Have a nutritious meal consisting of all essential minerals and vitamins, iron, zinc and copper to improve the WBC count
What Is The Treatment For Leukopenia?
Leukocytopenia is not a fatal condition. However, it can lead to some increased infections in your body. It can be respiratory infections, HIV, etc. which can be dangerous for you in the long run.
Hence, If you are suffering from Leukopenia, you should get medical treatment immediately to prevent other infections in your body.
The lack of White Blood Cells in your body may arise due to different conditions. Knowing these conditions will always help you in getting proper treatment of Leukopenia.
These conditions may differ from a damage of your bone marrow to any other reason. However, there are possible treatments for every such condition.
To treat leukopenia, It is advised to take some steroids and vitamins. It will activate the bone marrow and increase the production of the leukocytes (white blood cells) in your body.
Many therapies like cytokine therapy and chemotherapy are used to increase WBC count in your body. However, if the disorder is very severe, It is advised to take a prescribed cocktail of drugs to handle the situation.
c. Proper Sleeping
Along with all the medications, a restful sleep can help your body to increase the count of leukocytes. Sleeping for 7-8 hours daily can energize your body and help it repair the wear and tear of the tissues. This will further result in increased WBC production.
It is always advised to take antibiotics to prevent bacterial, fungal and other sepsis-related dangers.
e. Adequate Nutrition
Provide your body with adequate nutrition. It will suffice all the present deficiencies. Thus, resulting in increased production of WBCs.
How To Get Rid Of Leukopenia
Here are some food items that can be incorporated into your diet to get rid of leukopenia naturally.
Zinc is an immune booster. It helps in the production of white blood cells and decreases the risk of infection. I will advise you to consume food items like oysters, beef, lamb, wheat germ and spinach. These are rich in zinc and will help you to recover from Leukocytopenia.
2. Folic Acid
Folic acid is very helpful in the production of red blood cells and white blood cells. Its deficiency can lead to both anemia and Leukocytopenia respectively.
Eat more spinach, beans, and citrus foods. This will increase folic acid in your body and will produce some extra WBCs in your body.
3. Dairy Products
Implement dairy products like low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt in your daily diet. These foods are rich in protein. They will increase the production of white blood cells in your body. You can also eat egg custards or pasteurized egg.
4. Green Tea
Drinking green tea can help you get rid of toxins from your body. Thus, it prevents infections and boosts your immune system. It works like an anti-oxidant in your body.
Garlic contains a good amount of zinc which is an important part of immune system. Eat food which is rich in garlic. It is said to have the ability to promote WBCs to fight infections.
6. Fruits And Vegetables
Eat fruits and vegetables like oranges, melons, carrots, spinach and other green leafy vegetables. They will help you in increasing white blood cell count in your body.
Take multivitamins if your diet is not rich enough in vitamins. Vitamin A and vitamin C are essential elements in the production of white blood cells in your body.
You can take Echinacea and Astragalus herb. It can stimulate immune system activity as it is vitamin rich.
Consult your doctors before taking these herbs as it might have some allergic reactions to your body. It is advised to take them in an injected form.
8. Drink water
Drink lots of water in a day. It will intoxicate your body and boost up your immune system. It will both prevent and treat Leukopenia.
Does Yoga Helps In Treating Leukopenia?
Yes, yoga is one of the most effective remedies in improving blood circulation and production of WBCs in your body. Yoga’s cobra pose or Bhujangaasan activates the Thymus gland located behind the breastbone.
The main function of the Thymus gland is to produce disease-fighting T-cells.
It can be done in the following manner :
a. Lie on your stomach. Stretch your legs out and place your hands lightly underneath your shoulders with the palms down and the elbows folded upward.
b. Press your thighs, navel and the tops of your feet into the ground.
c. Inhale and slowly raise your upper body (head, chest, and abdomen) with the support of your arms, bringing your shoulder blades close together.
d. Maintaining that position, stretch your tailbone and the crown of your head further back.
e. Hold this pose for 15 to 30 seconds and exhale. Lower your torso back to the ground and put your hands beside you.
Take rest and repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times.
If in any condition, you diagnose yourself with Leukocytopenia, Do not panic. The only major danger in this condition is of infections.
Proper diagnosis and treatment at an early stage will help you to get rid of it.