By Dr. Dushyant Rana, General Physician
What does low blood count mean?
Low blood count may occur when the bone marrow fails to produce enough quantity of red blood cells (RBC’s), white blood cells (WBC’s) or platelets. In medical terms, low blood count is also known as ‘cytopenia’. A blood test, known as complete blood count (CBC), is generally recommended by doctors if they want to check the blood count. In case any of the three blood cell counts are low, the doctor may conduct a blood smear, to check for any abnormality of the cells.
Low blood count can result due to a number of reasons which include-
- Vitamin deficiency
- Failure of the bone marrow
- Aplastic anaemia (deficiency in different types of blood cells resulting from a failed development of the bone marrow)
- MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndromes; characterized by the inability of the bone marrow to produce enough of platelets, WBCs and RBCs)
- PNH (Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria; characterized by the destruction of RBCs)
Depending on the type of blood cell which is being produced insufficiently by the bone marrow, one can experience the following symptoms or effects-
Low RBC count, also known as anaemia, can lead to-
- Troubled concentration
- Weight and appetite loss
- Pale skin
- Breathing issues
Low WBC count is also known as neutropenia; can lead to-
- Onset of fever as well as infection
- Bladder infections, which cause pain
- Lung infections, which result in cough and breathing problems
- Mouth sores
- Sinus issues
- Skin infections
Low platelet count, also known as thrombocytopenia, exhibits symptoms such as:
- Easy bruising and bleeding
- Heavy flow during menstruation
- Frequent nose bleeds
- Petechiae (appearance of small red spots just beneath the skin surface, due to bleeding)
- Bleeding gums
Treatment Options For Low Blood Count-
The best way to deal with this problem is preventing the fall in blood count. This is now quite possible due to the availability of ‘blood cell growth factors’, which stimulate the bone marrow so that the RBC’s, WBC’s and platelets are produced in normal volumes.
Low blood count can also be dealt with blood transfusions. In some cases, the levels of RBC’s and platelets in the body are so low that a blood transfusion becomes essential.