Leukopenia is a condition wherein the leukocyte count in the blood is low. Low WBC or White Blood Cells indicate decrease in disease fighting cells circulating in the blood. Some of the common causes for low WBC count:
Viral infections Any viral infections may disrupt bone marrow function for a short duration thus producing low counts of white blood cells. Infections like typhoid, influenza may lower the white blood cell count.
Congenital disorders may weaken bone marrow function, a WBC spectrum test can confirm any such congenital disorder.
Kostmann's syndrome is a congenital disorder wherein the neutrophil production is low.
Myelokathexis Neutrophils fail to enter the blood stream.
Infectious disease HIV destroys the WBC and leaves the person susceptible to infections.
Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
Autoimmune disorders may destroy white blood cells or bone marrow cells.
Aplastic anemia In this condition the bone marrow does not produce enough of any of the cells including white blood cells. This condition may set in all of a sudden or can develop and progress gradually. Few drugs, pregnancy, radiation therapy or chemotherapy can trigger this condition.
Lupus is an auto immune disease wherein the body fights with its own immune system thus destroying white blood cells.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to kill cancerous cells. They however destroy healthy white blood cells thus leaving the patient with low WBC count. This is one major reason why cancer patients are unable to fight diseases or infections in general.
Leukemia is a type of cancer wherein the body produces too many white blood cells that are abnormal. These white blood cells are not active white blood cells that can fight infections. People down with leukemia have low white blood cell count as their bone marrow is producing more of the abnormal white blood cells.
Cancer may also damage the bone marrow.
Hyperthyroidism An overactive thyroid can produce lower number of white blood cells. The medication used for thyroid can reduce the white blood cell count in the blood.
Liver disorder/Spleen disorder Hypersplenism, in which blood cells are destroyed prematurely by the spleen. An enlarged spleen also known as splenomegaly can trigger low white blood cell count.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by Leptospira interrogans bacterium. This is also known as infectious jaundice, swamp fever and hemorrhagic jaundice . Leptospirosis is more prevalent in tropical areas especially in areas where there are animals or rodents in urban dwellings. This infection spreads through contact with water, food, or soil containing urine from infected animals. It usually does not spread from person to person.
Typical symptoms of Leptospirosis include high fever, muscle aches, vomiting and jaundice. The patient might suffer chills and headache. Other symptoms of leptospirosis are diarrhea, abdominal pain and skin rash. Left untreated, leptospirosis can lead to meningitis, kidney failure and liver failure. Since the symptoms are not very specific, this disease is likely to be neglected. A blood test for Leptospirosis is done to diagnose the infection. This will show increased liver enzymes and WBC count of less than 10,000. A urine analysis will show abnormality. Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics, such as doxycycline or penicillin.
Typhoid is caused by bacterium Salmonella Typhi and is spread by drinking contaminated water. Those suffering from typhoid carry this bacteria in their intestinal tract and blood. Even after recovery from the typhoid fever, the bacteria continue to reside leading to spread of the disease.
Eating food handled by a carrier leads to the spread of typhoid. Typically typhoid fever goes as high as 103° to 104° F. The patient suffers stomach pain, headache, gastroenteritis, weakness and loss of appetite. It can also result in rose-colored rashes, known as 'rose spots' in the abdomen. Some might notice epistaxis (bleeding from the nose) and swelling in the abdomen. As the disease progresses, there might be delirium and agitation. If typhoid fever continues into the third week, there might be life-threatening complications such as intestinal hemorrhage, Cholecystitis (inflammation of the Gallbladder) and intestinal perforation. Intestinal leakage could lead to intense irritation and inflammation of the abdominal cavity - a condition known as Peritonitis which can be fatal.
- There might be a decrease in WBC count and blood culture tests may show positive for Salmonella typhi or paratyphi.
- The spleen and liver might become enlarged.
- Anemia owing to intestinal bleeding
- Lowered body defenses could not fight against bacterial infections like Streptococcus Pneumoniae
- Infection may spread to heart or brain causing Meningitis and even coma.
If typhoid is diagnosed early, antibiotics for about 7 - 14 days are prescribed. The patient must be given plenty of fluids and small meals. Plenty of bed rest is needed to recoup from a bout of typhoid.