Q:

What can you do to build up your white blood cells?

A:

Treatment of low white blood cell count, a serious medical condition known as neutropenia, involves regular injections of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor, or G-CSF. If a patient does not respond to G-CSF, an alternative is a bone marrow transplant. There is no effective diet to increase white blood cells, but supportive therapies include careful management of hygiene and lifestyle.

Diagnosis of neutropenia is difficult and requires a full blood count test and, if the blood test is positive, bone marrow testing as well. Neutropenia may be caused by certain types of cancer, such as blood cancer, genetic disorders, radiation, some medications, folate or copper deficiencies, arsenic poisoning, chemotherapy, immune dysfunctions, such as AIDS, and virus infections. Extreme starvation can also bring on neutropenia, and though no special foods alleviate the condition, a balanced diet helps maintain a balanced white blood cell count.

People with severe chronic neutropenia, or SCN, have an increased risk of infection. To manage this, they need to keep up with routine immunizations and vaccinations. Additionally, they must maintain good hygiene with regular dental checkups, good oral care and frequent hand-washing. They also need to monitor their body temperature and any cuts or scrapes they may get on their skin. It is important to have emergency contact numbers close by and to consult a physician before traveling.


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