Low white blood cell symptoms

Updated November 21, 2016

A low white blood cell count increases your risk of infections. Leukopenia is the name for a decrease in total white blood cells, and neutropenia is a decrease in neutrophils, white blood cells of the immune system. White blood cells work with your immune system to fight infection. Therefore, a low white blood count increases your risk of infection. Causes of low white blood cells can include vitamin deficiencies, drug toxicity, infections, bone marrow disorders and some medications, especially chemotherapy. Symptoms of low white blood cells are related to infections or other conditions. These conditions may be the cause of or the result of low white blood cells.


You may be extremely fatigued due to the underlying cause of your low white blood cell count. One example is non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells, and according to the American Cancer Society, there are approximately 30 types. More than 95 per cent of patients with non-Hodgkin lymphomas are adults, mostly over the age of 60.

Flu-Like Symptoms

A low white blood count can make you feel like you have the flu with body aches. It is not uncommon to feel aching in your bones. However, if you experience new, unexplained pain that occurs suddenly, you should consult your doctor. In addition, you may have fever and chills. If you have a temperature higher than 38.1 degrees C. and chills (or trembling), you should contact your physician as soon as possible.

Sore Throat or Mouth

A sore throat, sores in your mouth or a white coating on your tongue or in your mouth should be reported to your doctor. This may be signs of thrush, which is a type of yeast infection. It results from Candida, a yeast that in normally present in your body, that has grown excessively. Left untreated, thrush can spread to other areas of your body.

Bladder Infection

Bladder infections may occur with low white blood cell counts. If you experience a burning during urination, a more frequent need to urinate, the presence of blood in your urine or an urgency that makes it difficult to get to the bathroom soon enough, you may have a bladder infection. You should report it to your doctor. Your doctor will treat the infection with antibiotics.


When you have a low white blood count, you should take precautions to avoid infections. Steps you can take include washing your hands frequently and encouraging your family and friends to do so as well, avoiding crowds and people that are are sick, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. In addition, you should avoid raw or undercooked foods, avoid contact with pet birds and reptiles and avoid farms and barnyards.

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