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Dr. D. Evans
Dr. D. Evans, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 4464
Experience:  MS in ENT and Head and Neck Surgery , Attachment to Neurosurgery.
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What does it mean if your white blood cell count is at 3.8 ...

Resolved Question:

What does it mean if your white blood cell count is at 3.8 when it should be at 4.2?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Dr. D. Evans replied 9 years ago.

Low WBC count may mean:
  • bone marrow failure (for example, due to infection, tumor, fibrosis)
  • presence of cytotoxic substance
  • collagen-vascular diseases (such as lupus erythematosus)
  • disease of the liver or spleen
  • radiation

However, there is no need to panic over this. 3.8 is certainly not low enogh to be called neutropenia, the disease condition with low WBC. It is most likely to be the effect of certain infections like typhoid of some viral infections. It is verylikely to come back again to normal levels if measured after some time.

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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
What is a cytotoxic substance?   Is Cancer also considered a bone marrow failure?
Expert:  Dr. D. Evans replied 9 years ago.
Cytotoxic substances are those like mercury, for example. There are a host of cytoxic chemicals in the environment which are poisonous when taken internally. There are also a number of drugs which have cytotoxic effects, like chloramphenicol. The ones most commonly used are those for cancer.

Cancer by itself is not cytotoxic, but some blood cancers can lead to lowering of WBC.

But the drugs used for cancer are all cytotoxic, and can lead to a lowering of WBC. Hence during chemotherapy of cancers, the WBC count is carefully monitored and not allowed to go down below a certain level.

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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I'm also experiencing some light headness....would this be contributable to the low WBC?
Expert:  Dr. D. Evans replied 9 years ago.
Ni, light headedness would not contribute to low WBC.

But low WBC may cause some light headedness as it has a tendency to cause mild fevers.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
What is neutropenia and Chloramphenicol in lay man terms?
Expert:  Dr. D. Evans replied 9 years ago.
Neuropenia is basically the term used to describe a decrease in WBC. Actually, it describes the decrease in a specific type, the main type,of WBC, the neutrophils.

Chloremphenicol is an antibiotic, it causes bone marrow suppression, leading to neutropenia, or low WBC. It is hardly used now.