White blood cells

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A type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and found in the blood and lymph tissue. White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system. They help the body fight infection and other diseases. Types of white blood cells are granulocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils), monocytes, and lymphocytes (T cells and B cells).

CBC and WBC

Checking the number of white blood cells in the blood is usually part of a complete blood cell (CBC) test. It may be used to look for conditions such as infection, inflammation, allergies, and leukemia. Also called leukocyte and WBC. White blood cells are also called leucocytes.

Types of white blood cells

There are different types of white blood cells which each have different roles to play.

The main types of white blood cells are:

  • Neutrophils and monocytes which mainly fight against bacteria.
  • Eosinophils and basophils are mainly involved in allergic responses.
  • Lymphocytes, which can be T-cells or B-cells, produce antibodies against foreign organisms and are especially involved in fighting off viruses.

Problems involving white blood cells

An abnormally low or high number of white blood cells might indicate an underlying problem.

Neutropenia

If you have a too few healthy type of white blood cells called neutrophils, this is known as neutropenia. It might be a sign of a serious problem, or it might just be because you’ve got a virus. It can also come on after cancer treatment.

Leukocytosis

If you have too many white blood cells called leukocytosis, it could be because you’ve got a bacterial infection.

Leukemia

Also leukemia, a type of cancer, makes you produce large numbers of abnormal white blood cells.

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