Advertisement

What is a white blood cell (WBC)?

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
White blood cells (WBC) are like an army. They patrol your body constantly, on the lookout for attacks from viruses, bacteria, and other infections. If the scouts find a problem, they sound the alarm and the troops swarm to the site of the attack.

And just like a military is made up of Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Forces, the WBC army also has specialists with names like Neutrophil, Esoniophil, Basophil, Lymphocyte, and Macrophage.

Each "branch" of the WBC military specializes in fighting different kinds of invaders.

One cool thing about blood cells in general is that, unlike most cells that reproduce by dividing, blood cells are manufactured in the bone marrow.

A WBC count is part of a blood test called a Complete Blood Count. An elevated WBC would serve as a marker of infection, as an unusual number of "troops" shows an invasion has taken place.

Continue Learning about Blood Basics

Step Up: Take Your Blood Pressure Meds and Save Your Life
Step Up: Take Your Blood Pressure Meds and Save Your Life
Q: How can I convince my husband to take his high blood pressure medicine? Help! Katie J., Sioux Falls, SD A: Katie, you’re right to be concerned—un...
Read More
Uncle Sam Needs You! To Donate Your Blood
Uncle Sam Needs You! To Donate Your Blood
Giving blood to people who desperately need it is an essential part of modern medicine. The first documented vascular transfusion came in 1667 when a ...
Read More
What can I do to make having blood drawn easier on my child?
Alliance For Kids®Alliance For Kids®
To make having blood drawn easier on your child, try the following: distraction, paying attentio...
More Answers
How do muscles get increased blood flow from other organs?
Discovery HealthDiscovery Health
When you begin to exercise, blood that would have gone elsewhere, for example to the stomach or the ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.