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Leukopenia is a condition that affects white blood cells. It can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, and trouble concentrating. Keeping your body healthy helps combat this condition naturally without the use of medication.
Leukopenia is a condition in which white blood cells drop below normal levels.
When a person’s blood has fewer white blood cells, they are more susceptible to infections, viruses, and other ailments. Aplastic anemia, radiation or chemotherapy, leukemia, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, influenza, TB, or lupus are only few of the conditions that may cause leukopenia or a low white blood cell count.
What can you do to protect yourself from possible health problems if you have leukopenia? Depending on the underlying cause of your situation, your doctor will determine if you need antibiotics, steroids, vitamins, fluids, or other treatments. However, eating a nutrient-dense diet and maintaining excellent cleanliness will enhance your immune system.
What Is Leukopenia?
Low white blood cell counts, also known as leukopenia or leukocytopenia, may be caused by various conditions, including iron deficiency anemia, an overactive spleen, or malignancies that destroy the bone marrow.
What is the significance of white blood cells? “You may consider white blood cells as your immune cells,” says Health Encyclopedia. White blood cells (also known as leukocytes or leucocytes) are produced in the bone marrow. They are a vital aspect of the immune system since they defend the body against infectious illness and external invaders.
The spongy substance found within more giant bones is called bone marrow. White blood cells are generated and preserved in the blood and lymphatic tissue of the body. A low white blood cell count indicates fewer disease-fighting cells in your blood, increasing the risk of health issues such as infections.
Neutropenia vs. Leukopenia: What’s the Difference?
When someone has leukopenia, they usually reduce one kind of white blood cell. Consider the following scenario:
- Neutropenia is a decrease in neutrophil numbers. The most prevalent kind of leukopenia, which is nearly invariably caused by neutropenia or lymphopenia, is this. In most cases, severe congenital neutropenia syndrome starts in childhood. Neutropenia may strike adults for several causes. First, the risk of bacterial infection rises dramatically when your absolute neutrophil count (ANC) goes below 1,000 cells/mm3, mainly if it’s less than 500 cells/mm3.
- Lymphopenia is a condition in which the quantity of lymphocytes is reduced.
- Granulocytopenia reduces the number of granulocytes (neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils), which includes neutrophils, monocytes, and eosin and basophils. Therefore, the terms granulocytopenia and neutropenia are often used interchangeably to refer to the same thing.
- Agranulocytosis is a kind of leukopenia that is severe and hazardous. It mainly affects neutrophils.
- Leukocytosis is the polar opposite of leukopenia, and it occurs when the number of white blood cells (leukocyte count) in the blood exceeds the normal range.
Symptoms and Signs of Leukopenia
If someone has moderate leukopenia, they may not show any signs or symptoms at all. No additional testing or treatment is generally required if this is the case. However, severe or sudden-onset leukopenia, particularly neutropenia, may induce worrying and significant symptoms that should be treated as soon as possible. Symptoms of leukopenia are usually caused by various diseases or infections that occur due to impaired immune function.
The following are the most prevalent leukopenia symptoms when they do occur:
- Chills, nausea, headaches, and a lack of appetite are all signs of a fever (This can indicate the presence of an infection, which can either be a cause for leukopenia or a result from it.)
- Diaphoresis is a condition in which a person loses their (excessive sweating)
- Loss of weight
- Skin rashes, swelling, discomfort, tenderness, heat, redness, and other symptoms indicate a localized infection.
- Lymphadenopathy is an inflammatory condition that causes the lymph nodes to expand and grow in size.
- Hepatomegaly, also known as splenomegaly, is a condition in which the spleen enlarges abnormally.
- Anemia symptoms include weariness, weakness, pallor, and impaired circulation.
- Mucosal bleeding, petechiae, or purpura are signs of thrombocytopenia (reducing the number of platelets in the blood).
- Inflammation of the joints
- Abscess of the liver
- Cough and, on rare occasions, pneumonia
- Infections of the urinary tract
- Ulcers in the mouth
Risk Factors and Causes
There are two primary causes of a low white blood cell count: either the body destroys the cells faster than they can be replaced, or the bone marrow does not produce enough white blood cells.
Leukopenia may be caused by a variety of health issues and disorders. The following are some of the most prevalent causes of leukopenia:
- Tuberculosis and other severe bacterial illnesses cause the body to consume up white blood cells at an accelerated rate (TB)
- Malaria and HIV/AIDS are examples of viral diseases that harm the bone marrow. HIV/AIDS impairs the immune system, reduces the white blood cell count, and may cause a range of disorders.
- Cancers that affect the bone marrow, such as leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Is it true that leukopenia and cancer are the same things? No, although specific blood cell and bone marrow malignancies may cause a white blood cell count drop.
- Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are examples of autoimmune disorders that kill white blood cells or bone marrow.
- Kostmann’s syndrome and myelokathexis are examples of congenital illnesses (those present from birth) that cause decreased bone marrow function.
- Antibiotics, immunosuppressive medicines, antipsychotic drugs, cardiac pharmaceuticals, anti-rheumatic drugs, interferons, and certain antidepressants are examples of medications.
- Sarcoidosis is a condition in which the body’s inflammatory cells clump together.
- Aplastic anemia is a kind of iron-deficient anemia
- Chemotherapy or radiation treatment, both of which kill white blood cells
- Hypersplenism is a splenic condition that causes blood cell death.
- Cirrhosis of the liver is a disease that affects the liver.
- Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies, such as a lack of folate or a loss of protein.
- Other disorders that take a toll on the immune system, such as excessive physical stress, injury, or prolonged mental stress, affect the immune system to a lesser amount.
Doctors detect leukopenia by looking at a patient’s total blood count to see whether their white blood cell count is low. What does it mean to have a “low white blood cell count?” Adults typically have a leukocyte count of 4,000 to 10,000 cells per milliliter of blood. While the precise cut-off for what constitutes leukopenia varies, most medical professionals regard anything below 3,000 to 4,000 white blood cells per microliter of blood (or cells/mm3) in adults to be unusually low.
Your doctor would likely propose evaluating your blood cell count if you have another illness that causes leukopenia, such as an autoimmune disease or leukemia. In addition, a whole blood cell test should be done as part of any physical examination on a regular/yearly basis for those at risk for leukopenia.
Acute leukopenia develops in weeks or less, but chronic leukopenia develops over months or even years. Acute leukopenia is a more dangerous illness that needs immediate assessment to rule out disorders, including drug-induced leukopenia, infections, or acute leukemia. When leukopenia develops over months, it’s time to check for persistent infections and primary bone marrow abnormalities.
A “peripheral smear” is used to detect whether the kind of white cell line is shallow, as well as whether the cells themselves are immature or aberrant. Other tests, depending on the defective or abnormal cells discovered, may be advised, including:
- Liver enzymes are included in a comprehensive metabolic panel.
- Cultures of blood
- Test for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Splenomegaly is confirmed via ultrasound.
- Parvovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex viruses, and hepatitis viruses tests are also available.
- Tests for tick-borne diseases such as rickettsiosis and anaplasmosis
- Antinuclear antibodies and rheumatoid factor tests, for example, are used to diagnose autoimmune disorders.
- Test for immunoglobulins
- Biopsy and aspiration of the bone marrow
Treatments that are often used
The underlying etiology of the disorder determines treatment for leukopenia. Among the treatment options available are:
- If a severe infection is discovered, intravenous antibiotics may be required (Examples include cephalosporins, anti-pseudomonal penicillins, carbapenems, aminoglycosides, aztreonam, and fluoroquinolone.)
- Vitamins, immune-suppressants, and steroids may be used to treat thrombocytopenia, which reduces the number of platelets in the blood.
- If a medicine causes your leukopenia, you may need to change your meds.
- Anemia and its treatment
- Autoimmune disease management
- When a patient with leukopenia becomes “immunocompromised,” particular care must be taken to ensure that the patient does not get ill very soon. To reduce the risk of infections and consequences, hospitalization, intravenous fluids, and other regimens may be advised.
Natural Leukopenia Recovery Strategies
Even if you maintain a healthy lifestyle and consume a nutrient-dense diet, avoiding leukopenia is not always feasible. However, there are strategies to lower your risk of several health issues that might cause leukopenia, as well as assist your immune system while you recover.
4 Natural Leukopenia Recovery Strategies:
- A diet that boosts your immune system
- Infection prevention via hygiene
- Other healthy behaviors to improve immunity and alleviate discomfort
1. Eat a diet that boosts your immune system
Which foods may assist with leukopenia treatment? To begin, ensure that you get enough calories, water, and nutrients to help you recuperate. Your diet may be adapted to your blood iron level, total iron-binding capacity, ferritin level (iron-storing protein in cells), folate level, and vitamin B12 level, among other things.
It’s essential to see a doctor and consider contacting a dietitian if you have deficiencies and weight loss due to malnutrition, lack of appetite, nausea, or vomiting. In addition, if you’re presently facing a sickness such as cancer, cancer therapy, or an autoimmune disease, your nutritional requirements may vary, so be sure to address this. The following foods are typically good for boosting immunity and lowering inflammation:
- Whole foods, particularly vividly colored fruits and vegetables, are a good source of antioxidants. (A well-balanced diet rich in fluids, calories, protein, vitamins, minerals, and iron may also help alleviate leukopenia symptoms like weariness.)
- High-antioxidant foods include leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, berries (blueberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, goji berries, Camu Camu, and blackberries), kiwi, citrus fruits, and orange and yellow-colored plant foods (such as sweet potatoes, berries, pumpkin, squashes, and other plant foods), kiwi, citrus fruits, and orange and yellow-colored plant foods (such as sweet potatoes, berries, pumpkin, squashes,
- Organic/grass-fed meats, wild-caught seafood, eggs, raw/fermented dairy products, nuts, and seeds are excellent protein sources.
- Coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, and avocados are excellent healthy fat sources.
- Manuka honey, garlic, herbs, spices, and apple cider vinegar are some more foods that enhance your immune system and help you battle lymphadenitis.
- Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that help the stomach and immune system. I prescribe probiotic foods and supplements for patients with food allergies, autoimmune illnesses, or compromised immune systems.
- It’s important to regularly eat iron-rich, zinc-rich, and selenium-rich foods to keep your energy levels up and your immune system healthy. Grass-fed meats and poultry, eggs, nutritional yeast, brazil nuts, spirulina, organ meats like liver, salmon, sardines, lentils and other legumes, dark chocolate, spinach, and sunflower seeds are all rich in these nutrients.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day if you don’t have much of an appetite or are queasy. After eating, sit up for roughly an hour to release any stomach tightness. To aid digestion, eat at least three hours before bedtime.
Also, remember to drink plenty of water. Aim for a daily water intake of one to two liters. Then, every two to three hours, or anytime you feel thirsty, drink a glass of water. Herbal teas, tea with lemon juice and manuka honey, fresh-squeezed vegetable juices, bone broth, and coconut water are all hydrating liquids that strengthen your immune system.
2. Maintaining Good Hygiene to Avoid Infections
Because a low white blood cell count makes you more susceptible to infection, you’ll need to take additional steps to prevent contracting infectious illnesses. The best way to avoid significant diseases and problems is to catch them early and treat them.
- Hands should be washed often and thoroughly. This is particularly crucial after using public facilities or contacting surfaces in hospitals or other public areas.
- Your doctor may advise you to wear a face mask and stay away from someone who has a cold or another sickness.
- Keep an eye on how minor wounds and scratches heal. To avoid infection, all damages should be cleaned and cared for appropriately. When you’re in the hospital, removing IV lines and urine catheters as soon as they’re no longer needed may help you avoid dangerous infections like sepsis.
3. Dietary supplements
- Echinacea may aid in the prevention of reoccurring diseases, including colds, coughs, and respiratory infections.
- Astragalus is an anti-inflammatory adaptogen plant that has been shown in trials to help minimize the toxicity caused by medications like immunosuppressants and cancer chemotherapeutics.
- Vitamin D may aid in the regulation of immunological responses. Consult your doctor to see whether supplementing is right for you. Allow your skin to be exposed to sunshine for around 15 minutes each day so that your body can produce its vitamin D.
- Oregano essential oil is recognized for its immune-boosting qualities, and its anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-parasitic components may help fight infections naturally. In addition, both frankincense and myrrh oil have anti-infective attributes and may be used to fight infections.
- Ginseng may help your immune system by controlling macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells, among other immune cells.
- Ginger root and essential oil have antibacterial properties and may aid in the treatment of infectious disorders. In addition, both ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties. They may assist in developing resistance to viruses, germs, parasites, and stresses such as chemical agents and cigarette smoke.
4. Other Habits
- Discuss any medications you’re taking with your doctor to see whether they’re making your symptoms worse. You may need to adjust your dose or try a different medicine.
- Make every effort to obtain adequate sleep and relax. To get a good night’s sleep, change your sleeping patterns. Try not to sleep for more than 30 minutes throughout the day. Before going to bed, do something calming like taking a warm bath or shower, reading, writing in a diary, or meditating. By going to bed at around the same hour each night, you can maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle. Maintain a cold, calm, and dark environment in your bedroom. Before going to bed, avoid doing anything that exposes you to blue light, such as using a computer or phone, playing video games, or even watching television.
- Apply a cold compress to your forehead, neck, or another inflamed region to relieve discomfort and swelling if you’re suffering from headaches. Do this a few times a day for 10–15 minutes till the swelling goes down. In addition, adding 1–2 drops of tea tree and oregano oil to the compress will aid in the battle against infections. Peppermint essential oil may also be inhaled or rubbed into the temples, neck, or chest.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcoholic beverages, and high-sugar meals, which may exacerbate headaches, lethargy, and other symptoms.
- Find methods to integrate physical activity/exercise into your daily and weekly routine to improve your immune system, particularly as you become older. According to studies, immunosenescence (gradual degeneration of the immune system) seems to be enhanced by high levels of physical activity and exercise in older persons aged 55 to 79. (7) Begin by getting outdoors, breathing fresh air, and going on regular walks.
- Quit smoking, excessive alcohol use, and the use of cigarettes or other substances. Instead, chat to your doctor about smoking cessation methods, talk to a therapist, or enroll in an online program that specializes in smoking cessation.
- Toxins, chemicals, and pollutants should be avoided as much as possible at work. If you’ve had chemotherapy or radiation in the past, talk to your doctor about your risk of acquiring diseases in the future.
- Consider psychosocial treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, stress management methods, and other coping measures, if symptoms like fatigue/lethargy start producing mood-related symptoms like depression.
- A low white blood cell count is known as leukopenia (or leukocytopenia).
- Anemia, viruses and infections, autoimmune illnesses, an overactive spleen, and malignancies that affect the bone marrow, such as lymphoma and leukemia, are all causes of leukopenia.
- White blood cells (also known as leukocytes or leucocytes) are an essential aspect of the immune system that protects the body against infectious illness and external intruders.
- Although leukopenia is typically asymptomatic (causing no symptoms), it increases the risk of contracting other diseases and viruses.
- Infections, weariness, fever, enlarged spleen or liver, pneumonia, anemia, headaches, and other symptoms of leukopenia might occur.
- Antibiotics, hospitalization if required, intravenous fluids, and other interventions to address underlying health issues are all standard therapies for leukopenia. However, if leukopenia is modest, there may be no need for treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you cure leukopenia?
A: This is a highly complex question, and there are many different treatment options. One of the most effective treatments for leukopenia is to receive intravenous immunoglobulin or IVIG if available in your area.
What foods help leukopenia?
A: Lycopene, vegetables, and citrus fruits.
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