Can a low white blood cell count lead to fatal health problems? Read the following article to find out.
In order to come to a rational conclusion with regards to how fatal leukopenia is, let’s understand this condition from a closer perspective first. Leukopenia as a health condition might not sound very serious in the first instance as it is the medical terminology for a drop in the number of white blood cell count in your body – just a drop. However, the ‘just’ in the previous sentence would cease to exist when you come face to face with the underlying implications of this condition.
Unlike a low red blood cell count, this ailment doesn’t just leave you fatigued and weak – it increases your susceptibility to all types of infections and deals a heavy blow to your body’s own disease fighting mechanism. You see, the white blood cells, also known as leukocytes, in our body are the immune system agents present in the bloodstream that keep many pathogens and other foreign objects, that invade our biological systems, from making us sick.
There exist different, extremely specialized varieties of leukocytes and each type is tailor-made for targeting specific types of pathogens and disease-causing agents. For instance, neutrophils attack harmful bacteria and fungi while eosinophils play the nemesis of larger parasites and so on. Now, just imagine the amount of destruction and harm pathogens and infectious agents would be able to freely wreak in the body when these very white blood cells, that stand as sentinels against them, dwindle in number! So, when you look deeper, you’ll realize that leukopenia is way more than just a mere decrease in the white blood cell count. Now, the question is, how fatal is it? Let’s find out.
Can Leukopenia be Fatal?
Asking whether leukopenia is fatal is like asking if people die from AIDS and the answer to both is ‘yes and no’. While neither condition kills you in its own right, they weaken your immune defenses (in case of AIDS, it’s more of a disabling than weakening) and kill your body’s inherent ability to fight infections. This makes your body a nesting place for all sorts of bacteria, parasites, viruses and other pathogens which attack your health uninhibited and unchallenged.
This leads to further weakness as these pathogens gather their nutrition from your physiology, weakening you further. In this state, no matter how healthy a diet you go on, the nutrition just doesn’t get to reach you. This vicious cycle continues till your body ceases to respond to even medications (without nutrition, the strong medicines may actually do more harm than good), leading you towards a complete health breakdown.
Now, as far as leukopenia is concerned, its effects are similar as it is characterized by a significant drop in the number of white blood cells in the body. In their absence, disease-causing germs and foreign particles get an open field to play the devil with your health. So, in that sense, leukopenia can be quite a serious condition as it can be equated with an open invitation to pathogens to come and roost within your body. However, the degree of seriousness may vary, depending upon the number of functioning leukocytes that exist among the remaining white blood cells in your body. The more, the merrier as they can still hold up against pathogens while you receive treatment to set your condition straight.
Aside from the aforementioned conditions, it is also held by various medical experts that exactly how fatal leukopenia proves for an individual may also depend upon his/her genetic makeup. While most individuals with average health are not likely to get this condition, persons receiving chemotherapy, radiotherapy and those with a history of leukemia are highly susceptible to be diagnosed with leukopenia. It may also manifest as a side effect of various medications, especially antipsychotic, antidepressant and immunosuppressive drugs.
Influenza and other diseases affecting the immune system (such as cancers, malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, sepsis, etc.) may also decrease the production of white blood cells in your body but treating these automatically restores healthy leukocyte production levels.