The human body is an intricate structure of efficient cells, tissues, muscles, bones, organs, and their larger systems that come together to make sure that you survive each day so well. Every movement is a complex mechanism consisting of a million little parts — that effortless pulling and pushing out of breath, the gentle chewing of food and its patient journey towards your stomach, the resilience of skin growing over each scar and wound.
Even the reflex actions that make you blink and duck out of harm’s way are pre-designed just for your protection. In your loneliest minutes, your body is fighting against the odds just to keep you safe and warm.
Although we do learn about this in school, the concise basics in the textbook might not be enough to make us realize just what a miracle it is to exist. Or we are often more aware of the amazing major organs, such as the brain and the heart, but forget the little cells and tissues that come together to make all this possible.
Have you ever wondered why you can simply recover from a common cold after a few days of resting, medication, and hot bowls of soup?
How are medical databases filled with the names of so many diseases, but you can live through your life without experiencing most of them?
How the world is filled with so much pollution and harmful substances, but the body still filters them out and keeps itself going?
All of this is done because of your body’s immune system, and one of the essential contributors are the little white blood cells (WBCs) within you. These little fighters make up for less than 1% of your total blood cells, but they work their hardest to fight off any potential germs without you even realizing it.
Being aware of WBCs and normal WBC count can help you stay one step ahead of diseases. Today, we are going to tell you all about normal white blood cell count so you can keep walking on this road of good health with a smile.
Your white blood cells, or leukocytes, are produced in your bone marrow, lymphatic tissues and reticuloendothelial tissues (liver, spleen, lymph nodes, other organs). They are stored in your lymph tissues and bloodstream.
Whenever a particular area in your body is under harm, white blood cells are released towards that spot. They surround the cause of the infection or inflammation and destroy the harmful substance or germ. They also help in resisting any damage that toxins and other dangerous particles can cause.
There are three main categories of white blood cells:
These are small granules containing protein produced in the bone marrow, making up 60-70% of the total WBC count.
These consist of the basophils (typically present in body post-allergic reactions), eosinophils (response to parasitic infections and inflammation), and neutrophils (surround bacteria and destroy it).
These are produced in the lymphatic tissues, making up 20-30% of the total WBC count.
These consist of B-cells (produce antibodies for immune response to infection), T-cells (recognize and remove infectious cells), and natural killer cells (innate immune response that kills viral cells and cancer cells).
These are produced in reticuloendothelial tissues, making up 4-8% of the total WBC count.
These remove damaged and dead cells while also helping prevent chronic infections.
Thus, even the littlest of these cells have their unique functions that come together so you can do your daily mundane tasks.
The WBC count in your blood (and even other bodily fluids) can help in detecting the presence of any underlying diseases or conditions.
For infants, the normal WBC count in blood is between 9000 to 30,000 per cubic millimetre (mm3) of blood.
For children under the age of 2, the normal WBC count in blood is between 6,200 and 17,000 per cubic millimetre (mm3) of blood.
For children older than 2 years old and adults, the normal WBC count in blood is between 4,500 and 11,000 per cubic millimetre (mm3) of blood.
All these ranges might vary a little depending on each lab. A WBC count that is higher or lower than this might be an indicator for certain infections, diseases, etc.
A WBC count test is a simple procedure that checks whether or not you have a normal white blood cell count. It is usually done by taking a small sample of your blood, though sometimes other fluids such as cerebrospinal fluid might be checked as well.
Normally, there are no special preparations that you need to take before a WBC count test. Just make sure to tell your doctor about any previous medications you might be taking and any allergies to substances used during such tests. Always ask for proper instructions about pre-test and post-test care so you can go through the process as easily as possible.
A low WBC count is also known as leukopenia. It might be caused by various reasons, such as liver and spleen diseases, radiation treatment, bone marrow deficiency, autoimmune conditions such as lupus, serious bacterial infections, HIV, certain medications, etc. Even severe stress can reduce your WBCs to lower than normal.
A low WBC count may give specific symptoms such as repeated fevers, chills, infections, etc. These symptoms vary depending on the underlying cause.
A high WBC count is also known as leukocytosis. It might be caused by a variety of reasons, such as smoking cigarettes, asthma, tissue damage, leukaemia, inflammatory conditions such as bowel diseases, allergies or arthritis, certain medications, etc. Even stress, high-intensity exercises, and pregnancy can increase your WBCs.
A high WBC count can cause symptoms such as easy bruising, hives, night sweats, etc. These symptoms depend on the underlying cause and the type of white blood cells activated for the response.
If your test results show a lower or higher WBC count and the cause is unclear, your doctor may prescribe further tests to identify the same. All these above symptoms are not necessarily indicators for abnormal WBC counts, and not all abnormal ABC counts are indicators of severe conditions.
So, don’t let the idea of this test scare you, and make sure to focus on the well-being of your body through regular checkups and practised precautions.
There is no one guaranteed method to keep your WBC count in check, but you can engage in multiple habits that support your overall body health and immunity.
You can include Vitamin C in your diet through amla, oranges, lemons, papayas, lime, pineapples, tangerines, etc. This helps build immunity as well as encourages the production of white blood cells.
You can also eat foods with natural anti-oxidizing powers such as garlic, kale, artichokes, beets, beans, spinach, grapes, tea, etc. These can help neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent any damage to your body’s cells and organs.
You can also eat foods rich in other vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory prowess, and other nutrients. These are all essential for rejuvenating your body and its systems so you can enjoy the little things that keep you happy amongst all of life’s difficulties.
You can try to include small exercises into your routine in a way that feels comfortable and fulfilling for you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take care of your mind’s health by being gentle with yourself, going to therapy if possible, and healthily releasing pent-up emotions and feelings. Make sure to steer clear of your allergens and triggers, taking medications and supplements if they have been prescribed.
Also, indulge in your hobbies, favourite food treats, and the company of the people that make you feel loved and cared for. You might just be surprised by how much difference you can make in your life and even others’ lives.
Be it the WBC count or other body parts, make sure to be as regular with your checkups as you can. Be aware of all that goes on in your body and mind because they will tell you when they feel uncomfortable. Listen to them and do what you need to take care of yourself.
Each person and their bodies, minds, and spirits are different, so one health care method cannot apply to all. So, don’t try to fit into somebody else’s fitness plan and respect your body’s capacities and wonders. Eat the food that suits you best, do the exercise that makes you feel at home in your skin.
Never shame your way into good health. Remember that health is a constant process made up of tiny steps, both forwards and backward. Gently take yourself by the hand and walk into the arms of your future self, who knows that self-care is the best language of love and health.