Blood is a very important component of the human body, that carries nutrients as well as oxygen to each and every organ, tissue, and cell of our bodies. Not only this, it also has a major role in prevention of diseases and infections that strike our bodies. The blood consists of red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), platelets and many other cells that make up blood cells. Of these, white blood cells function as the immune system cells that fight off infections.
They are also known as leukocytes that carry out phagocytosis. This means they surround an invading organism, engulf it and thus, destroy it. The minute the body detects infection, the bone marrow is stimulated to produce more white blood cells to take care of the infection. There are five types of leukocytes; neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and the basophils.
High white blood cell count does not mean a specific disease, but an indication of need for further medical evaluation. A normal white blood cell count is around 4,500 to 10,000 cells per microliter. These cells are just 1% by volume of the total blood in the body in absence of an infection.
The normal range for various types of white blood cells count per microliter of blood is as follows:
- Neutrophils: 3150 to 6200
- Lymphocytes: 1500 to 3000
- Monocytes: 300 to 500
- Eosinophils: 50 to 250
- Basophils: 15 to 50
When a differential blood count is carried out, a specific increase in the type of WBC indicates specific disease. For example, an increase in case of neutrophils indicates infection, cancer or stress. In case of high monocyte and eosinophil count, it may indicate a bacterial infection. AIDS is indicated by high lymphocyte count.
High WBC Count Symptoms
Any infection, inflammation or allergy can lead to increase in WBC count. Bacterial infections, leukemia, trauma, inflammation, or stress are also symptoms of high WBCs in blood.
High WBC Count Causes
An elevated white blood cell count can arise due to many medical reasons. High WBC count usually means there is increase in production of these cells to fight a possible infection. It may also means it is a reaction to a drug that helps in improving the WBC production. Bone marrow diseases may also cause high white blood cells count. Or it may also be due to an immune system disorder that leads to increase in white blood cell production.
There are specific causes that may lead to high WBC count. This may mean the following factors cause high blood cell count:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
- Allergic reaction
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia
- Drugs, such as corticosteroids and epinephrine
- Hairy cell leukemia
- Hemolytic anemia, which includes sickle cell anemia
- Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Infection such sinus infection or bladder infection
- Inflammation due to a burn, skin rash or other tissue damage
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Other bacterial infections
- Other viral infections
- Physical or emotional stress
- Polycythemia vera
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Surgical spleen removal
- Whooping cough
High WBCs in urine may also mean a number of conditions like a urinary tract infection, bladder infection, kidney infection, kidney stones or tumor. It may indicate whooping cough, bacterial or viral infection, measles, allergy or leukemia.
High WBC Count Treatment
The treatment is based on the underlying cause. As you may have understood from the above paragraph, the high WBC may mean either of the conditions mentioned in the list. After diagnosis of high WBC count, the doctor may have a look at your medical history and carry out further tests and investigations. When the tests indicate the correct cause of high WBC, he will advice the appropriate line of treatment.
An increased white blood cell count can mean a number of things, and only a doctor can confirm the actual meaning of this unexpected rise. So, the answer to what does it mean when your white blood cell count is high, can be accurately answered by a doctor after carrying out further tests and investigations.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.