Blood Disorders Print Normal White Blood Cell (WBC) Count By Amber J. Tresca | Medically reviewed by a board-certified physician | Updated March 19, 2019 In This Article Table of Contents Expand Overview Test Reference Range Uses Abnormal WBC in IBD Symptoms View All Back To Top More in Blood Disorders Anemia White Blood Cell Disorders Polycythemia Vera & Myelofibrosis Learning what is, and what isn't, a normal white blood cell (WBC) count is important for people who have chronic health conditions. The WBC count is an important measurement that doctors will use to better understand what might be going on inside the body during a variety of health situations. For people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the WBC count can indicate that the inflammation associated with IBD is either increasing or decreasing. As the WBC count goes up, it could mean inflammation is happening somewhere in the body. As the WBC count goes down, it could mean inflammation is resolving. Fast Facts About the WBC Count White blood cells cause infection and inflammation in the bodyA high WBC count could indicate that there's an infection or inflammation in the bodyA normal WBC count is not an exact number but instead is a value somewhere above what would be considered low and below what would be considered highThe WBC count result is used along with other test results to monitor the status of a disease or condition About the WBC Count Test Blood contains several different types of cells. White blood cells are one of the types of cells that are found in the blood. These specialized cells are one part of the body's immune response. White blood cells are created inside the bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside bones. There is an estimate as to what is a typical white blood cell count and what is too high or too low. A high WBC count is one sign that there is an infection, inflammatory disease, or an inflammatory process taking place somewhere in the body. There are several different conditions that could cause a higher than normal or a lower than normal WBC count, but it is important to keep in mind that this test is not specific enough to diagnose any particular disease. In some cases, although not always, people who have IBD and are experiencing the associated inflammation in their intestines may be found to have a higher than typical WBC count. The body is using the white blood cells to fight the inflammation, and that is what causes the high WBC count. Reference Range (Normal Range) for a WBC Count The WBC count is sometimes known as a leukocyte count or white count. It is often done as part of a bigger complex of blood tests called a complete blood cell (CBC) count. A WBC count is the number of white blood cells per volume of blood. Be advised, however, that there is no one number that defines a "normal" or a typical WBC count. The count may be expressed in one of several different types of units because there is variation depending on which unit of measurement a particular lab uses. Different labs will also have their own definition of what constitutes a "high" or a "low" WBC count. What this all boils down to is that while a table of WBC counts, and the high and low values, is included below for reference, the numbers are an example of only one way of showing how a normal count might be defined. In addition, a typical WBC count can also vary from person to person: one person's version of "normal" might not be the same as another person's normal. Physicians may compare a person's blood test results to previous blood test results, especially if a "baseline" number exists for a double-check. Ask a physician any specific questions about WBC count numbers or about any blood test results. Example White Blood Cell (WBC) Count Reference Ranges Approximate Low Range < 4,000 white blood cells per mm3* Approximate Normal Range 4,500-10,000 white blood cells per mm3 Approximate High Range > 11,000 white blood cells per mm3 *mm3=cubic millimeter What a WBC Count Is Used For The WBC count is not actually an indicator of any specific disease; it can't tell your doctor if a person has or doesn't have a particular condition. Rather, it is used as an important piece of information that a physician can use to help monitor or assess the course of a disease or condition. Leukocytosis is an elevated WBC count; leukopenia is a decreased WBC count. A higher than typical WBC count (leukocytosis) could be associated with: Bacterial infectionInflammatory diseases (arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease)LeukemiaTraumaUse of steroids A lower than typical WBC count (leukopenia) could be associated with: Drug allergyImmune system disorders such as lupusLow bone marrow functionSide effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapyViral infection Other Causes of an Abnormal WBC Count in IBD A WBC count could be out of the normal range due to some medications that are used to treat IBD. In particular, corticosteroids such as prednisone may cause an increase in white blood cells. Some medications that treat IBD, such as 6-MP and Imuran, may cause the WBC count to be lower than normal. A gastroenterologist can help put a low WBC count into perspective when these drugs are being used to treat IBD. Symptoms of a WBC Count That's Out of Range A high WBC count could mean that there's inflammation or an infection somewhere in the body. In some cases, it might be clear that it's related to an existing disease or condition, in which case, the symptoms of that disease might be present. In some cases, there could be symptoms associated with a low WBC count. Those symptoms might be: Body aches or painsChillsFeverHeadache A Word From Verywell A WBC count isn't specific in diagnosing a disease or condition. However, in the case of someone who has IBD, a high WBC count could mean that the IBD is causing inflammation. It's also possible that a separate condition is causing the abnormal WBC count, which is why other tests might need to be done to determine what's happening. Taken altogether, the results of a WBC count, any physical symptoms, and the results of other tests will help a physician to determine what is going on in the body. It's important to discuss the results of the WBC count with a physician in order to understand what it could mean. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you reach your 2018 goals. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources Vermeire S, Van Assche G, Rutgeerts P. "Laboratory Markers in IBD: Useful, Magic, or Unnecessary Toys?" Gut. 2006 Mar; 55: 426–431. Wilkins T, Jarvis K, Patel J. "Diagnosis and Management of Crohn's Disease." Am Fam Physician. 2011 Dec 15;84:1365-1375. Continue Reading Blood Disorders Overview of White Blood Cell Disorders: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment Blood Disorders What are Polymorphonulear Leukocytes (PMNs)? Blood Disorders Causes of Low White Blood Cell Count in Babies Blood Disorders Why You Might Have an Increased White Blood Cell Count Blood Disorders What Should You Know About White Blood Cells and Immunity? 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