A blood count is the total number of blood cells that circulate through a person’s body based on a lab test of their blood sample. When looking at the sample, the doctor looks at three types of cells: the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Essentially, a low blood count occurs when the bone marrow is not making enough of one type of cell. The medical term used to describe a low blood count is ‘cytopenia’. In order to test for a low blood count, doctors will conduct a complete blood count test. If there is a low count of red, white blood cells or platelets, the doctor will further examine the cells under a microscope- this process is called a blood smear.
Symptoms of a low red blood count
The red blood cell (RBC) count, haemoglobin and hematocrit are tested to identify a low blood count. The normal red blood cell count range is 4.0- 5.5 million cells in the body and a blood cell count lower than this range is known as anaemia. A low red blood cell count can be an effect of cancer treatment, bone marrow failure or aplastic anaemia.
If a person has a low RBC count, they may feel tired and weak. Since the red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body, a reduction of the haemoglobin in the cells may also cause shortness of breath and an increase in the heart rate.
- Difficulty in concentrating
A person with a low RBC can also have trouble concentrating. This can also be attributed to the low energy levels that anaemia can result in.
- Loss of appetite
A loss in appetite can be a symptom and a causal factor for anaemia. Deficiency of vitamin B12 in the diet can lead to anaemia, which suppresses a person’s appetite, thereby decreasing their low haemoglobin count even further.
- Pale skin
Due to the lack of oxygen circulating in the body, your skin begins to look pale due to the reduced blood flow around the body. The paleness can exist in specific areas such as the palms, hands or tongue or all over the body.
Symptoms of a low white blood cell count
A low white blood cell (WBC) count can be caused by two things:
Leukopenia- a decrease in the white blood cells in the body which can increase the chance of infection
Neutropenia- a reduction in the neutrophil count in the body can decrease the white blood cell count
The most common symptoms of low WBC are:
- Decreased Immunity
With a low white blood cell count, you may experience continuous fevers and infections. This can include a lung infection where you may have difficulty breathing or it could be a bladder infection that makes it painful to pass urine.
- Increased severity of infections
If you have a low white blood cell count, you will not face the regular symptoms of an infection. Generally, symptoms tend to be more intense therefore, it is important to notify the doctor when you face uncommon symptoms.
Symptoms of low platelet count
When the skin is injured, the platelets in the blood form clots to stop the bleeding. When there is a low count of platelets in your blood, the body can no longer form clots.
- Red dots on skin
Platelets flow through the blood and line the inner parts of the blood vessel. With a low platelet count, the blood can seep through the thin layers of skin and cause red dots on the skin called petechiae. A low platelet count is also known as thrombocytopenia.
- Increased bleeding
A low platelet count can cause even a minor bruise or injury to bleed more easily. For women, a low platelet count can result in a heavy flow during the menstrual cycle. You can also have bleeding in the gums from dental work or from brushing your teeth.
You are unlikely to experience the symptoms of a low blood count unless the blood count is very low. Hence, it is important to check your complete blood count regularly- Neuberg Diagnostics offers a complete hemogram test.
In addition to this, it is recommended to get an annual master health-check-up to rule out any potential illnesses or health issues. Along with an annual check-up, you should also take preventative measures by eating the right foods, getting plenty of rest and avoiding excessive drinking and smoking.