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General Medical Questions
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Question : A test showed that I have a low white blood cell count of 3800. I have not had any issues with my health besides a head cold. What are the most likely causes of a low white blood cell count?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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January 19, 2011
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A:

White blood cell count is part of a blood test called “complete blood count” or CBC. Red blood cell and platelet counts are the other parts of a CBC.

The usual CBC lab report will show a normal range of 4,500 to 11,000 white blood cells. However, many healthy people have white blood cell counts that are lower than 4,500. At 3,800 white blood cells, you very likely have more than enough to fight infections.

You mention that you had a head cold when the blood test was done. A common cause of a temporary low white blood cell count is a viral infection.

You should check with your doctor about when to repeat the CBC. Certainly there is no rush if you are feeling well and this was the only blood test that was out of the “normal” range.

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