Medical Q&As

White cell count - significant?

I have had a blood test and my white blood cell count is low .What does this mean?

A low white cell count is a relatively common finding and it is usually a transient event. Many people exhibit a low white cell count in response to viral or bacterial infection, which can be considered to be a normal event. However, sometimes it may be a chronic persistent finding. Certain medications can result in a low white cell count. The anti-epileptic drugs phenytoin and phenobarbitone can lower the white cell count as can phenothiazines and penicillin. Deficiency of Vitamin B12 and folate deficiency can also reduce the number of white cells but such deficiency is usually accompanied by other signs in the blood. A low white cell count can also be a feature of autoimmune disease. If the spleen is enlarged this can also reduce the white cell count because an overactive spleen can increase the rate of destruction of various cells in the blood. Sometimes diseases of the bone marrow can result in reduced manufacture of white cells, which is reflected in a low white cell count. However, for most people a low white cell count is usually a transient phenomenon related to recent viral or bacterial infection.