Leukopenia or Low Leukocytes, Causes

Leukopenia is the medical term for a low white blood cell count.

It is due to low neutrophils (neutropenia) or low lymphocytes (lymphocytopenia). Both types of cells play an essential role in the body’s defense against infections such as viral infections, autoimmune disorders (such as lupus), certain medications (including chemotherapy and some antibiotics), radiation therapy, and diseases. Bone marrow (such as leukemia or myelodysplastic syndromes) leads the patient to a decrease in neutrophils and lymphocytes.

Symptoms of a Leukopenia include:

Fever, frequent infections, and infections that will not be resolved.


A specialist can diagnose the cause of your low white blood cell count and provide treatment to correct or prevent infections. The needed tests may include specialized blood tests such as flow cytometry, complete blood count, and blood cultures. A bone marrow biopsy can also be performed if the cause is not evident from blood tests.

Causes of Leukopenia

  • Neutropenia
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Liver disease
  • Brucellosis
  • Leukemia
  • Malaria
  • Myelodysplasia
  • Septicemia
  • Typhoid fever
  • Chemotherapy
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Tuberculosis
  • Dengue

Sometimes, leukopenia is caused by Rickettsia infections, enlarged spleen, folate deficiencies, psittacosis, and sepsis. Other causes are deficiency in certain minerals, such as copper and zinc. People who suffer from leukopenia are more prone to cancer and AIDS. Therefore, the treatment must be timely.

Treatment for Leukopenia

The following are some of how the white blood cell count may increase. Doctors prescribe steroids and vitamins to activate the bone marrow and thus produce more white blood cells.

Some use therapies such as cytokines and chemotherapy. The patient may be prescribed a cocktail of medications in severe conditions depending on the situation. Adequate sleep is also essential for the body. One should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day since it is a source of energy and can also help in the improvement of the white blood cell count.


low white blood cell count weakens your immune system and puts you at a high risk of infections. Leukopenia is not considered dangerous for life in itself, but the way it makes the body vulnerable to other diseases that can cause fatal results in the future. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment can save you from critical conditions in your life.