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"What constitutes a low white blood cell count?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat constitutes a low white blood cell count?


What constitutes a low white blood cell count? I just got my charts back from a blood test I had done, and my doctor says I'm lower than average but isn't clear what this means or whether I should do anything about it. What's my next step


This is an example of how we as physicians need to do a better job communicating what test results really mean. In this case, a physician would need to look deeper in to your white blood cell count to determine its significance. White blood cells are the cells that fight off infections from bacteria viruses and fungi. They have a very wide range of normal levels between 4 thousand and 11 thousand, though it may be normal for some people to have counts between 3 and 4 thousand. Having a very low white blood cell count puts people at risk of infection. However, having a below average white count does not necessarily mean that you have increased susceptibility to infections. I suggest that you schedule another appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can go through your complete blood with you. You may need what's called a white count differential test where the the different types of white blood cells are counted to determine if there is one type that is particularly low. If you develop any type of sign of infection such as fever or night sweats, you should call your doctor right away. Good luck.

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