White blood cell count, or WBC count, is a test that measures the total number of white blood cells in a sample of your blood. This test is often included in a complete blood count. White blood cells help to protect your body by fighting against bacterial infection and viruses. Sometimes, the number of white blood cells in your blood can rise or fall due to a number of reasons.
What is white blood cell – fighting bacterial infection?
WBCs, also called leukocytes, are an essential part of the immune system. These cells help fight infections by attacking bacteria, viruses, and germs that invade the body. White blood cells grow in the bone marrow and later circulate throughout the bloodstream.
Why do we need to have WBC count?
Having a higher or lower number of WBCs than normal may indicate an underlying medical problem. A WBC count can detect hidden infections within your body and help doctors find undiagnosed medical conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, immune deficiencies, and blood disorders. This test also helps doctors monitor how effective the chemotherapy or radiation treatment is for cancer patients. However, the test cannot tell doctors what specific problems we are having.
What’s the normal white blood cell count?
The average normal range is between 3,500 and 10,500 white blood cells per microliter of blood (mcL). The number results from 3.9-10.7 x (WBC) 103 cells/µL. Infants are often born with much higher numbers of WBCs, which gradually reduce to normal as they grow up.
What does a higher white blood cell count mean?
A higher than typical WBC count could be associated with:
- Bacterial infection
- Inflammatory diseases (arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease)
- Use of steroids
What does a lower white blood cell count mean?
A lower than typical WBC count could be associated with:
- Drug allergy.
- Immune system disorders such as lupus.
- Low bone marrow function.
- Side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- Viral infection.