What Causes High White Blood Cell Count?

White blood cells (WBCs) or leukocytes are an integral part of your immune system and help fight infections by eliminating viruses, bacteria and germs from your body. While these cells originate in the bone marrow, they circulate throughout your body. To check the number of white blood cells in your body, your doctor will order a WBC count test which is usually a part of your complete blood count. Most people are usually worried about a decrease in the number of white blood cells. However, the number of white blood cells may go up sometimes, making people ask, what causes high white blood cell count?

Normal White Blood Cells Count

There are different types of white blood cells, but are divided into two main categories – Granulocyte and Agranulocytes. Granulocytes are a combination of three types of white cells, including basophils, neutrophils, and eosinophils, all of which help destroy invading microorganisms. They have tiny granules that contain special enzymes. These enzymes digest invading microorganisms and keep them from causing an infection.On the other hand, agranulocytes include lymphocytes and monocytes. Monocytes are the white blood cells responsible for recognizing and marking invading germs, whereas lymphocytes (B cells and T cells) attack those germs marked by monocytes.

Your blood test will measure the number of all these cells. Normally, your white blood cells are between 3,700 and 10,500. You may notice a change in these numbers due to stress, exercise, and disease. Before asking the question, what causes high white blood cell count, you need to learn about the normal values of several specific white blood cells.

Type

Number

Percentage

Eosinophils

40-390

1-4%

Neutrophils

2,188-7,800

50-60%

Basophils

10-136

0.5-2%

Lymphocytes

875-3,300

20-40%

Monocytes

130-860

2-9%

What Causes High White Blood Cell Count?

Now that you know the normal values of white blood cells in your body, you will better understandcauses of high white blood cell count:

1. Infections

An increase in the number of white blood cells usually indicates a viral or bacterial infection; however, parasitic and fungal infections can also make your white blood cell count go up. In a bacterial infection, your immune system triggers the bone marrow to increase the number of white blood cells to fight the infection. As for viral infections, the numbers go up in early stages when your immune system makes an effort to clear the infection.

2. Inflammation and Allergies

Allergies and inflammations can also be possible answers to the question, what causes high blood cell count? Inflammations like rheumatoid arthritis will increase white blood cell count. This may also happen due to tissue damage and injury, such as heart attack, burnsand surgery. Allergic reactions and asthma may also trigger your immune system to produce white blood cells to against an allergen.

3. Stress Issues

If you are under severe emotional stress, you may notice a rise in your WBC count. Severe physical stress through exercise may also increase levels of cortisol and other hormones that increase the levels of white blood cells in your bloodstream.

4. Bone Marrow Diseases

A bone marrow disorder may also cause high white blood cell count. Leukemia is a common complication and a type of cancer where bone marrow produces too many white blood cells. Caused by a mutation in a gene called JAK2, Polycythemia Vera is another bone marrow disorder that increases the number of white cells in your body. Myelofibrosis may also be the reason behind an increase in WBC count.

5. Immune System Disorders

What causes high white blood cell count? The answer may be that you have an autoimmune disorder, like Graves' or Crohn's disease. If you know you have one of these conditions, it is important that your doctor keeps an eye on your WBC count.

6. Medications

Certain medications such as drugs to treat mental health conditions, inflammation, or even cancer may also increase levels of white blood cells. A research in 2001 shows that lithium drugs can send chemical messages to the immune system, making more white blood cells.

7. Smoking

Excessive smoking leads to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which means that you have developed a lung and airway disease such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. These diseases block proper airflow and increases inflammation in your airways and lungs. Your body produces more white blood cells to fight that inflammation.

8. Other Causes

There are some other causes of high WBC count. For instance, your WBC count will increase if you have had your spleen removed. You will also notice an increase in WBC count in the final month of your pregnancy.

How to Deal with High White Blood Cell Count

What causes high white blood cell count? You know the answer now. What to do? Your doctor will first arrange a complete blood count (CBC) to see how high your white blood cell count is. In some cases, they may also ask for a bone marrow biopsy to rule out any bone marrow disorders. With considering your conditions, ageand overall health, your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment plan. A combination of treatments can help resolve the issue. For instance:

Medication and Supplements

Your doctor may give you medications to eliminate infections. Nplate (romiplostim) can help to deal with clotting issues. Antibiotics can work to against infections and other WBC disorders. Supplements can be taken to deal with anemia caused by deficiency, like vitamin B9, iron, or B12 supplements.

Diet Adjustments

Pay attention to what you eat to manage your white blood cells. You should avoid eating food rich in calories, fat, salt and sugar to keep your WBC count in normal range.

  • Eat food high in antioxidants to keep our cells away from harmful molecules called free radicals which work to damage cells, protein and DNA. Phytochemicals with antioxidant property can help to stop such damage. Such foods including onions, garlics, leeks, grapes, carrots and other fruits and vegetables can work to strengthen the immune system.
  • You should also eat food rich in omega3 fatty acids, which can work to keep you from foreign bacteria. You can go for fatty fish like herring, trout, salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed.
  • Also include food that contains vitamin C, because it helps provide your body with power to fight infections – you will get enough vitamin C from citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges, lime. Other fruits like papayas, berries, pineapples guavas, and vegetables like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and bell peeper can be good sources of vitamin C.
 
 
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