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Two tests done and having low WBC. Any upcoming risks?

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Addiction Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2002
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I have A low WBC. Two tests one month apart. 3.6 and 3.4. Referred to a hemotologist on Monday. What can I expect?
Posted Tue, 22 Oct 2013 in Blood Disorders
Answered by Dr. Preeti Parakh 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Detailed history and physical examination.

Detailed Answer:

Welcome to Healthcare Magic!

I understand that you have no other abnormalities other than low white blood cell count and want to know what is likely to happen when you visit the haematologist.

The first thing that your haematologist will do is to take a detailed history focusing on the conditions that can cause leucopenia (low WBC count). For example, he would want to know if you have ever had this problem before or this is the first time. He would also ask you if you have had any infectious illnesses lately. A detailed history would be taken about any medications that you might be on as many drugs can cause this as an adverse effect. The other questions that you will be asked are:
1) Is there a family history of neutropenia or recurrent infections?
2) Has you ever abused intravenous drugs or alcohol?
3) Do you engage in any practices that put you at risk for HIV?
4) Are there any preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, anorexia nervosa, or a congenital syndrome? 5) Have you lost a significant amount of weight lately?
6) Do you have fever or night sweats?

A physical examination is needed to rule out fever, jaundice, pallor, enlargement of spleen and liver and other abnormalities. The doctor will also assess your nutritional status as dietary deficiencies may also be responsible.

The doctor may ask for a repeat total WBC count along with an absolute neutrophil count. Since you have only mild leucopenia, it is likely that if there are no significant physical findings and if you are asymptomatic, he will just put you in observation for a few weeks as often this resolves by itself. If however, some pointers are found as to a possible cause, you may be put through additional tests to confirm the illness, for example, tests for the presence of infections. The primary cause will then need to be treated first. For treating leucopenia, there is the option of using colony stimulating factors to increase the cell count, but it is indicated only in more severe cases.

Please do not worry as leucopenia can be transient and can spontaneously resolve. However, till you get to see the haematologist, try to prevent any infections by maintaining adequate hygiene. Also get good sleep as poor sleep worsens leucopenia.

Hope this answers your query. Please feel free to ask if you need any clarifications.

Best wishes.

Dr Preeti Parakh
MD Psychiatry
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