A normal white blood cell count is 5,000 to 10,000 for people assigned male at birth and 4,500 to 11,000 for people assigned female at birth. Some health conditions can affect your WBC count.

A white blood cell (WBC) count is a test that measures the number of white blood cells in your body. It may also be called a leukocyte test. This test is often included with a complete blood count (CBC), which is commonly used to screen for different conditions that may affect your overall health.

The term “white blood cell count” is also generally used to refer to the number of white blood cells in your body.

White blood cells, also called leukocytes, are an important part of the immune system. They originate in the bone marrow and move throughout the bloodstream. These cells help fight infection by attacking bacteria, viruses, and germs that invade the body.

Keep reading to learn the normal white blood cell count range and what counts outside that range may mean.

A white blood cell count can detect hidden infections within your body and alert doctors to undiagnosed medical conditions, such as:

This test also helps doctors monitor the effectiveness and side effects of chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and other therapies in people with cancer.

White blood cell differential

Doctors may also order a white blood cell count differential. This test separates the count by the different types of white blood cells and looks to see if they are in the normal range.

The major types of white blood cells have different roles in protecting your body from infection and dealing with infected cells. They include:

A normal white blood cell count can mean your immune system is functioning as it should. The normal white blood cell count range is typically between 4,000 and 11,000/microliter (μL). This range may vary due to age, sex, and lab. The lab performing your test may include a reference range on your report.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), the normal white blood cell count ranges for people in the following groups are:

Age rangeWBC range per μL of blood
Adults assigned male at birth5,000 to 10,000
Adults assigned female at birth4,500 to 11,000
Children5,000 to 10,000

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.

The types of cells that make up WBCs usually fall within a percentage range of your overall WBC count.

Type of WBCNormal percentage of overall WBC count

A higher or lower percentage of a certain type of white blood cell can result from an underlying condition.

If your test results are abnormal, it may mean that your numbers are higher or lower than the normal range.

WBC range per μL of blood
Low white blood cell countunder 4000 per μL of blood
High white blood cell countover 11,000 per μL of blood

To identify the exact cause of a high or low WBC count, a doctor may take several factors into consideration, such as:

  • current medications
  • symptoms
  • medical history

They may also run additional tests.

Low white blood cell count

Leukopenia is the medical term used to describe a low WBC count. It can result from:

Sometimes, neutropenia is also used to indicate a low blood count. This term refers to a low number of neutrophils, but because this type of white blood cell makes up 55 to 70% of your overall white blood cells, leukopenia is often driven by a low number of neutrophils.

Having neutropenia may put you at an increased risk for infection. You may not have enough white blood cells to protect you from germs and bacteria. If you have neutropenia, a doctor may recommend taking precautions such as wearing a mask in public settings and avoiding crowds to reduce your risk of infection.

High white blood cell count

Leukocytosis is the medical term used to describe a high WBC count. This can result from:

An elevated white blood cell count may also be chronic or long lasting with the following conditions:

Symptoms of a low WBC count can include:

A high WBC count doesn’t often cause symptoms, but the underlying condition behind it may have its own symptoms.

It’s also normal for doctors to order a CBC and check your WBC count during an annual physical exam.

A WBC count requires no specific preparation. You can schedule an appointment with a doctor or set up an appointment at a local medical laboratory.

Before having your blood drawn, talk with your healthcare professional about all prescription and nonprescription medications you’re currently taking.

Certain medications can interfere with your lab results and either lower or increase your WBC count. These may include:

No specific foods or diet is proven through research to increase the production of white blood cells.

It’s important to include a good source of protein in your diet, as amino acids found in protein are needed to build WBCs.

Vitamins B12 and folate are also needed to produce WBCs, so consider adding a multivitamin and mineral supplement daily. Though not proven, some believe adding vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, garlic, selenium, and even spicy foods can boost the immune system.

If you’re being treated for cancer or other causes of leukocytosis, talk with a doctor before taking any supplements, as they might interfere with treatments.

A WBC count is often done as part of a CBC. These tests may be ordered as part of a routine blood test. The normal white blood cell count range is typically between 4,000 and 11,000/microliter.

A WBC count outside that range may result from an underlying health condition. A doctor may need to order additional tests to determine the cause and treatment.