Symptoms of leukopenia vary from person to person and depend on the cause and severity of the problem. Lack of energy, headache, fever, and irritability are common symptoms. You may also notice that you may have more infections and sores in your mouth. Sometimes, a person with leukopenia may develop a desire for warm liquids. Complications of leukopenia may include:
- Anemia. Anemia will result in decreased red blood cell and hemoglobin levels.
- Abnormal Period. Women may have exceptionally heavy bleeding or abnormal bleeding.
- Neurasthenia. Neurasthenia results in chronic fatigue, headache, and irritability.
- Thrombocytopenia. As leukopenia progresses, platelets in your blood may decrease resulting in a condition called thrombocytopenia.
- Stomatitis. Stomatitis is characterized by infections in the mouth causing sores on the gums, lips, and tongue.
- Pneumonia. Pneumonia, or infection of the lungs, may result from decreased white blood cells that would normally fight this type of infection.
- Liver abscesses. Although rare, one of the most deadly results of leukopenia is the possible development of a liver abscess from an infection in the liver.
When diagnosing an individual for leukopenia, it is imperative to consider the patient’s history. He or she may have undergone chemotherapy in the past or may have been exposed to certain types of radiation. However, the following laboratory workups are usually done:
- Platelet count
- Sedimentation Rate
- Differential count
- Chemistry panel
- Febrile Agglutinins
- Serum protein electrophoresis
- B12 and Folate Deficiencies
When the above mentioned tests are already done, the next procedures carried out are bone marrow examinations and hematology consultation. The following other tests may also be useful in diagnosing leukopenia:
- Bone scan for metastatic neoplasm
- CT scan to detect splenomegaly, liver disease and neoplasm
- Donath–Landsteiner test (paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria)
- Liver and spleen scan
- Lymph node biopsy for Hodgkin’s disease and presence of metastasis
- Skeletal survey if there’s any metastatic neoplasm.
Leukopenia is treated by stimulating the bone marrow so additional white blood cells can be produced. Steroids can be used to stimulate the bone marrow, as can cytokine or chemotherapy. Eastern medication often prescribed DangGui Bu Xue, a method of tonifying the blood. These may be combined with tangkuei or Tan kuei to assist in the production of blood cells and eliminating toxins in the blood which can be impacting the white blood cells. Patients will often be given multivitamins which contain copper and zinc to ensure that the body has enough nutrients to produce healthy blood cells.
In addition to helping your body grow new white blood cells, the patient will usually be put on medication that can be used to eliminate any infectious diseases that are putting stress on the immune system. This will allow the new white blood cells to flourish. Medication needed for this treatment will vary based on the nature of the infection.