Medical protective eyeglasses and vials full of blood to test Leukopenia, low white blood cell count.

How to Test for Leukopenia: Low White Blood Cell Count

Medical protective eyeglasses and vials full of blood to test Leukopenia, low white blood cell count.

Leukopenia occurs when a person has an abnormally low number of white blood cells. Your white blood cells are responsible for a variety of functions in the body, but their most prominent function involves supporting the body’s immune system. When white blood cells are low, it can cause many different adverse side effects, including an increased risk of illness and infection. This article will share more about leukopenia and how to test for it.

What causes Low White Blood Cell Count

People may have leukopenia for many reasons, including certain medications, infections, disease, and toxin exposure.


Sometimes, leukopenia occurs as a side effect of medications. Common medications that can result in leukopenia include:

  • Clozapine: an antipsychotic medication
  • Sodium valproate and lamotrigine: antiepileptic medications
  • Immunosuppressive drugs: sirolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, tacrolimus, and cyclosporine

If you require prescription medications that may cause your white blood cell counts to drop, you must take certain precautions to avoid infection, such as frequent hand washing and avoiding individuals who are sick.

Infection and disease

Certain infections and diseases can cause leukopenia. Viral infections commonly cause leukopenia because they can disrupt the bone marrow’s production of blood cells.

Other common diseases that may cause leukopenia include:

  • Bone marrow disorders like aplastic anemia and multiple myeloma
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infections such as bacterial and viral infections
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Some cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, may result in leukopenia.

Toxin exposure

Certain toxins like chemotherapy drugs and radiation can damage the bone marrow, leading to leukopenia. White blood cells created inside bone marrow can become damaged, leading to abnormalities in white blood cell production and lower-than-average levels. 

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What are the Symptoms of a Low White Blood Cell Count?

Photo crop of an anonymous person lying in bed, exhausted. Symptoms of low white blood cell count include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Fever
  • Mouth sores and sore throat
  • Painful urination
  • Swelling
  • Diarrhea

Diagnosis of Leukopenia

If you are concerned about your low white blood cell levels, your doctor can administer a complete blood count test (CBC). This test involves taking a small blood sample and sending it to a lab. You will then find out if you have healthy white and red blood cell levels, which helps your doctor identify whether you have leukopenia and what may be causing it.

A more specific blood test for leukopenia is a differential white blood cell count. This blood test looks at the percentages of each type of white blood cell (up to 8 different types). By evaluating your levels of the different kinds of white blood cells, your doctor can determine your condition and help chart a path to recovery.

Suppose your doctor finds that you have leukopenia and are concerned that it is related to a problem with your body’s ability to make white blood cells. In that case, they may order a bone marrow biopsy which involves taking a bone marrow sample and evaluating it in a lab.

Leukopenia Treatment

Treating leukopenia involves isolating the underlying cause. Once your doctor has determined the cause of your low white blood cell count, they will move forward with the best treatment option. If an infection causes leukopenia, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications that may help. If your leukopenia is related to a cancer diagnosis and you’re currently on a chemotherapy regimen, your doctor may recommend delaying chemotherapy until your white blood cell count increases.

Avoiding infections when your white blood cell count is low is crucial since your body cannot effectively defend against them in its weakened state. Take steps to stay healthy and keep your immune system high by eating a healthy diet, avoiding other people who may have a sickness, and boosting the immune system with an immunity boost IV.


Leukopenia is a term used to describe a low white blood cell count. The white blood cells serve an essential function in the body, and low levels can lead to adverse side effects. There are various reasons why a person may experience low white blood cell counts or leukopenia. Your doctor will likely use a blood test to diagnose leukopenia. If you have leukopenia, it is essential to discover the underlying cause to proceed with treatment promptly.

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Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?

It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.

What does a routine blood test cover?

A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.

How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?

A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

What is the cost of a lab test?

In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.

Read More: Lab Testing FAQ