Understanding White Blood Cell Count – Normal, High, & Low

Should you keep track of your white blood counts?

Lymphocytes and neutrophils are the most important white blood cells in your blood count, and they only have a circulating half-life of a few hours or a few days. Thus, white blood counts are variable in time, and only reflect the state of infectious diseases and the stage of leukemia in particular cases that should be analyzed by a doctor.

Keeping track of white blood counts is appropriate to follow-up patients in cases of severe infection, and to make important decisions in patients with leukemia. For example, taking a new blood sample after antibiotic therapy will help us understand how the antibiotic is dealing with the infection. And in cases of leukemia, a follow-up of white blood count is essential to know whether or not the disease is being controlled with chemotherapy and other therapeutic options at hand.

Thus, if you had a normal white blood cell count, there is no reason to keep track of your numbers for a while, unless you start displaying new signs and symptoms. Conversely, if you had an alteration in your white blood count, trust your doctor and follow his recommendations. Ask him when is it appropriate to have a follow-up and do not try to interpret the results of your tests by yourself.

References

Hutchison, R. E., McPherson, R. A., & Schexneider, K. I. (2011). Basic examination of blood and bone marrow. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders, 43.

George-Gay, B., & Parker, K. (2003). Understanding the complete blood count with differential. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 18(2), 96-117.

Stone, M. (1999). The Harvard Medical School family health guide.