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normal white blood cell count
A normal white blood cell count can indicate that your immune system is functioning as normal. The normal range for a white blood cell count is typically between 4,000 and 11,000/microliters.
Factors like age and sex may determine what a normal range looks like.
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), these are the normal white blood cell count ranges for people in the following groups:
|Age range||WBC range per μL of blood|
|Adult men||5,000 to 10,000|
|Adult women||4,500 to 11,000|
|Children||5,000 to 10,000|
Note that pregnant people may have a white blood cell count that differs from these ranges. Newborns and children under two may also have ranges that differ from those listed above.
These normal ranges can also vary by lab. The lab performing your test may include a reference range listed on your report.
Another common measurement for the volume of blood is cubic millimeter, or mm3. A microliter and cubic millimeter equal the same amount.
The types of cells that make up WBCs usually fall within a normal percentage of your overall WBC count.
The normal percentages of the types of WBCs in your overall count are usually in these ranges, according to the LLS:
|Type of WBC||Normal percentage of overall WBC count|
|neutrophil||55% to 70%|
|lymphocyte||20% to 40%|
|eosinophil||1% to 4%|
|monocyte||2% to 8%|
|basophil||0.5% to 1%|
Having a higher or lower percentage of a certain type of white blood cell can also be a sign of an underlying condition.
What is a white blood cell (WBC) count?
Our blood contains a certain white blood cell count (WBC, leukocytes or leucocytes) which, as part of the body’s immune system , help the body fight infection. A white blood cell (WBC) count measures the amount of white blood cells in a sample of a person’s blood. The number of white blood cells in the body differs between individuals or at different ages in their lives. The normal white blood cell count in a healthy adult is between 4,000 and 11,000 WBCs per microliter (μl or mcL) or cubic millimeter (mm3) of blood, though this may differ between males and females, and healthy children and young people usually have more.
To measure the number of white blood cells in a person’s body, a doctor will order a white blood cell count, often as part of a complete blood count (CBC) test. A low white blood cell count can indicate conditions including infections, inflammation, certain cancers, HIV/AIDS, and others, making it an important diagnostic test. Aside from these conditions, a person’s white blood cell count can indicate their immune system activity, response to cancer treatment and overall health.
A WBC count is a blood test to measure the number of white blood cells (WBCs) in the blood.
WBCs are also called leukocytes. They help fight infections. There are five major types of white blood cells:
- Lymphocytes (T cells, B cells, and Natural Killer cells)
The normal number of WBCs in the blood is 4,500 to 11,000 WBCs per microliter (4.5 to 11.0 × 109/L).
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different labs. Some labs use different measurements or may test different specimens. Talk to your provider about your test results.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
You may also have these tests:
Differential WBC count. This blood test measures the amount of each type of white blood cell.
Complete blood count (CBC). This measures all of the major blood cells, including white blood cells.
Neutrophil test. This may be done to check for neutropenia. If you have neutropenia, it means your neutrophil count is low and you can easily get an infection.
Bacterial and viral cultures. Your healthcare provider may also send samples of your blood, urine, sputum, and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) to the lab to check for bacteria and viruses.
Imaging tests. You may have imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, to look for sources of infection.
Biopsy. If your healthcare provider thinks you may have a type of blood cancer, you may need a biopsy to help figure out the cause of your abnormal WBC values.
Other causes of a high white blood cell count
Many other conditions can cause a high WBC count. Typically, WBC counts that are very high indicate a more serious condition or cause than levels that are just outside the normal range.
Possible causes of a high WBC count includeTrusted Source:
- vaccine administration
- acute or chronic allergies
- a heart attack
- certain medications, such as corticosteroids, epinephrine, and antibiotics
- acute leukemia
- connective tissue diseases
As many conditions can cause high WBC counts, doctors will likely use additional tests, a physical exam, and a review of symptoms to confirm a diagnosis.
The many causes of low white blood cells
First, before trying to pinpoint the cause behind a low WBC measure, it is important to note that a single data point really can’t provide a comprehensive answer. Ideally, you should be able to compare recent blood results with past ones to identify a pattern or a deviation from your “normal.” The good news is that WBC count is frequently tested as part of a complete blood count (CBC) panel, a routine test you might’ve had at your doctor’s office or if you’ve ever been hospitalized. So track down past blood work and use it as a comparison point for your new results—using multiple data points can help you determine whether you fall into one of the below categories.
What is it used for?
A white blood count is most often used to help diagnose disorders related to having a high white blood cell count or low white blood cell count.
Disorders related to having a high white blood count include:
- Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, conditions that cause the immune system to attack healthy tissues
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Cancers such as leukemia and Hodgkin disease
- Allergic reactions
Disorders related to having a low white blood count include:
- Diseases of the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS
- Lymphoma, a cancer of the bone marrow
- Diseases of the liver or spleen
A white blood count can show if the number of your white blood cells is too high or too low, but it can’t confirm a diagnosis. So it is usually done along with other tests, such as a complete blood count, blood differential, blood smear, and/or bone marrow test.
Normal Blood Counts
Normal blood counts fall within a range established by testing healthy men and women of all ages. The cell counts are compared to those of healthy individuals of similar age and sex. Nearly all lab reports include a “normal” range or high and low “values” to help you understand test results.
Normal Ranges of Blood Cell Counts for Healthy Adults and Children
per microliter (µL)
per microliter (µL)
per microliter (µL) of blood
% of blood composed of red cells
grams per deciliter (g/dL)
|Men||4.7 to 6.1 million||5,000 to 10,000||150,000 to 400,000||42 to 52||14 to 18|
|Women2||4.2 to 5.4 million||4,500 to 11,000||150,000 to 400,000||37 to 47||12 to 16|
|Children3||4.0 to 5.5 million||5,000 to 10,000||150,000 to 400,000||32 to 44||9.5 to 15.5|
1The ratio of hematocrit to hemoglobin is about 3 to 1.
2Normal ranges for women who are pregnant differ from these ranges.
3These ranges are for children from infancy to adolescence; speak with your doctor to find out specific values for infants and young children.
How Blood Cancers Affect Blood Counts?
Blood cancers can affect blood cell counts in a number of ways, either lowering or increasing measurements. If you’re currently receiving cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, drug therapy or radiation, your blood counts will be affected. Blood counts usually return to normal after treatment is complete.
6 ways to improve your white blood cell count
If your “resting state” white blood cell count is low, it’s unlikely that lifestyle changes will have an impact on your levels. For other causes of unoptimized white blood cell levels, there are some things you can do to help to reduce the demand on your immune system and increase its ability to protect you from foreign pathogens:
1. Manage your stress
Mental, emotional, and physical stressors all contribute to your body’s ability to defend itself from infection. The term allostatic load refers to the wear and tear on the body and brain as a result of stress. It is regulated by adrenalin and cortisol, among other compounds. As your body works to adapt to and deal with the biological causes of stress, its ability to manage resources for the immune defense response may be compromised.
2. Get adequate sleep
3. Engage in regular physical activity
The impact of exercise on white blood cell count and immune function is a U-shaped curve. That is, too little exercise and too much exercise can both increase your risk of infection. Routine, moderate-intensity exercise (e.g. 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity 5 days per week) has been demonstrated to support optimal white blood cell levels.[8,9] If you engage in high intensity training regularly without a rest day between activities, reducing the frequency of high intensity exercise can also be helpful in restoring your normal WBC level.
4. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. These compounds can help to support the normal functioning of white blood cells and the immune system overall. In particular, focus on the antioxidants vitamin A, C, E and selenium. Vitamin A can be found in red, orange, and yellow-hued fruits and vegetables, as well as dark leafy greens. It is best absorbed when eaten with some source of fat and a mixture of fresh and cooked sources. Vitamin C is found in citrus, berries, broccoli, bell peppers, kiwis, and Brussels sprouts. Limited cooking is best to preserve vitamin C content. Vitamin E is mostly found in nuts and seeds. Wheat germ, wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, and sunflower seed butter at the best sources. Selenium is found in the highest concentration in Brazil nuts. Two Brazil nuts per day provide the daily recommended amount.
5. Maintain a healthy body weight
Excess body weight is associated with elevated levels of white blood cells, as it can cause an increase in inflammation and result in a WBC imbalance.
6. Stop smoking
Smoking causes your white blood cell count to be elevated, as it causes your body to be in a constant state of inflammation and damage caused by tobacco.