Talking in terms of physiology, all of us are warriors! We fight millions of microorganisms like harmful bacteria and viruses from damaging our body every single moment. Well, to be more precise, our white blood cells or leukocytes are the ones doing this tough job for us without getting tired. They are the most crucial part of our immune system and ensure our internal safety.
WBC count means the population of white blood cells in our body. There is a specific range under which this count should fall, and if the count exceeds or falls behind the said range, it may indicate trouble.
Since all of us should be aware of the dynamics of our body, we have created this comprehensive article aiming to enlighten you about the importance and meaning of WBC count!
What is a normal WBC count?
The range of WBC count is divided into three categories according to age profile- newborns, children under two, and people older than two years of age.
- For newborns, the count is 9000 to 30000 per microlitre (MCL) of blood.
- For babies below the age of two, the count is 6200 to 17000 per microlitre of blood.
- For anyone aged above two years, their WBC count should fall in the range of 5000 to 10000 per microlitre of blood.
The unit of measurement of WBC in the blood can also be cubic millimeter (mm3) as both mm3 and mcL are equal units.
White blood cells’ types
White blood cells are of different kinds, and in the overall count of WBCs, each type acquires a specific proportion. The said kinds are- neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, monocytes, and lymphocytes. All the kinds have a similar job profile- fighting infections by eliminating germs, viruses, and bacteria.
Even the percentage of all these cells in the WBC count should fall under the normal range, which is as follows:
- WBC count has the highest percentage of neutrophils. Their range can be 55-73 per cent, and they help in the destruction of fungi and bacteria.
- Next in the high percentage list are lymphocytes with a range of 20-40 per cent. These cells produce antibodies that protect the body from bacteria and viruses.
- Monocytes’ percentage can be anywhere between 2 to 8 per cent. Their job is to break down the germs and bacteria that enter our bodies.
- Eosinophils acquire 1-4 per cent while basophils come at last with a small percentage of 0.5-1 percent. The former is produced as a response to allergies and destroys cancer cells and parasites, while the latter makes the body alert from allergens and releases chemicals in the bloodstream as a response to allergens.
Even if the overall count of WBC falls under a normal range, but one kind of WBC’s range is higher or lower than expected, it may indicate an underlying disease.
Why knowing WBC count is essential?
WBCs constitute a significant part of our body’s immune response. These specialized cells are produced inside our bone marrow, a spongy tissue located inside our bones. The normal range of WBC is not uniform all over the world, and multiple sources will depict various ranges. The normal count of WBCs can also vary from person to person.
If the WBC count is abnormally high or low, it is indicative of diseases or conditions like inflammation in the body, auto-immune diseases, blood disorders, infection, or inflammatory disease. However, it should be noted that WBC count is a test and is not sufficient to diagnose a person with any condition, so a medical professional’s advice should be sought if you see any disparity in your count.
What happens if your count is higher or lower than the normal white blood cell count?
If your WBC count is lower than the standard range, you may have leukopenia. There are several causes of leukopenia, such as
- AIDS-HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)- Caused due to blood infusion.
- Auto-immune disorders- Your immune system starts attacking its cells.
- Damage or disorder of bone marrow
- Acute allergies
- Diseases affecting the spleen and the liver
- Lupus- an auto-immune disease
- Radiation therapy
- Antibiotics and many other medications
If your WBC count is higher than the accepted range, it can be due to these reasons-
- Excessive smoking
- Severe communicable infections lie tuberculosis
- Development of tumors inside the bone marrow
- Conditions that cause inflammation, like bowel disease and arthritis
- Taking a lot of stress
- Damage in the tissues
- Medications in the line of corticosteroids
What to do about it?
Consuming a diet that is low in Vitamins like B12 and folic acid can influence the production of WBCs in the body. Intake of excessive alcohol is associated with creating an imbalance in the body’s level of nutrients as well as WBC count. Adding nutrients like Vitamin E and C, selenium and zinc, and foods like garlic and spicy foods may also help boost the immunity system.
However, if you are already diagnosed with any condition, it is advisable not to take any supplements that are not given a thumbs up by your doctor. It is equally imperative to remember that diet changes for uplifting the strength of your immune system do not have a lot of scientific research done to prove it. So, please only indulge in changes that do not have any side effects.
Signs and symptoms of an imbalance in the WBC count
Like any other disparity in the normalcy of the human body, this disparity, too, has signs and symptoms. Look at for these signs-
- Recurring headaches
- Pain in the body
If you experience any of these symptoms regularly, it is advisable to get your blood profile checked, although it can be indicative of a problem that doe not have anything to do with WBC count, as well.
If you observe any irregularities in your blood count, it would be best to consult a doctor so you can work out a way to design the perfect treatment. Till then, be carefree and kill one cause of an irregular WBC count!
Also, read- 7 foods to boost immunity