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Image of normal leukocytes in blood compared to Leukopenia

Leukopenia is a condition caused by having too few white blood cells. This condition is usually diagnosed after your doctor has ordered a blood test. Sometimes it is discovered when they are checking for a different condition.

The most common type of white blood cell are neutrophils. These cells help the body fight bacterial and fungal infections. When these are decreased it results in neutropenia.

Lymphocytes are another type of white blood cell that protects the body from viral infections. When there is a decreased amount of these types of cells, it results in lymphocytopenia.

There are many known causes of leukopenia that include:

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Cancer

  • Cancer treatments (including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplants)

  • Conditions affecting blood cells or bone marrow

  • Congenital disorders

  • Infectious diseases / severe infections

  • Medications

  • Sarcoidosis

  • Viral infections

  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies 

Symptoms of leukopenia may include:

  • Chills

  • High fever (over 100. 5˚F)

  • Sweating

While there is not a way to prevent leukopenia, there are several things patients can do to protect themselves during the time that their white blood cell count is low. They include:

  • Adequate nutrition

  • Avoiding contact with germs

  • Avoiding injury, cuts and scrapes

  • Getting plenty of rest

  • Proper handwashing (throughout the day, using soap and water or hand sanitizer)