White blood cells (WBCs) form the part of your immune system which is responsible for fighting infection and defending the body against other foreign materials. Various kinds of WBCs are involved in recognizing intruders, destroying harmful bacteria, and synthesizing antibodies to defend your body from future exposure to nasty bacteria and viruses.
Types of White Blood Cells
There are 5 main types of white blood cells, which include:
Neutrophils – Around half of your white blood cells are neutrophils. These cells are normally the first to appear in response to threats. As first responders, they also send out messages which alert other immune cells to respond. Your body produces close to 100 billion neutrophils each day, and once they are released from the bone marrow live for only 8 hours.
Lymphocytes (B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes) – There are 2 types of lymphocytes, with T cells being responsible for directly killing infections, while B cells are responsible for humoral immunity. They create the antibodies which “remember” a threat and stand ready in case your body should ever be exposed to them again.
Monocytes – Monocytes are practically your immune system’s garbage trucks. Around 5 percent of your white blood cells are monocytes, and their most essential function is to move into tissue and clean up any dead cells.
Eosinophils – Eosinophils play a critical role when it comes to fighting off bacteria, and they are also very important in responding to parasitic infections. They are also notorious for their role in producing allergy symptoms when they essentially believe that something harmless (such as pollen) is an invader. These are only around 1% of the white blood cells in your body but are highly concentrated in the digestive tract.
Basophils – Basophils also make up only 1% of your body’s white blood cells, and are important in mounting a non-specific immune response to infections. Basophils are best known for their role in asthma, since their stimulation may result in the inflammation and bronchoconstriction of your airways.
Conditions Involving High White Blood Cell Levels
There are a number of reasons why a person’s white blood cell count may be too high, including:
• Certain cancers
• Autoimmune disorders
• Trauma ranging from emotional stress to fractures
Conditions With Low White Blood Cell Levels
There are also quite a few reasons as to why white blood cell levels could be too low, including:• Severe infections
• Bone marrow damage
• Aplastic anemia
• Drug or chemical-related damage to your bone marrow
• Autoimmune diseases such as lupus
• Splenic sequestration
Symptoms of a Low White Blood Count
A low white blood cell count may be accompanied by quite a number of symptoms. These may include:• Blood in the stools
• Pain or frequency of urination
• Redness, swelling, or warmth in a region of infection