Too Many White Blood Cells
The presence of too many white blood cells can mean several things. As a vital component of the immune system, the body deploys white blood cells when it detects anything from a basic bacterial or viral infection, to a form of blood cancer (leukemia).
Too Many White Blood Cells
While having an elevated or abnormally high white blood cell count does not necessarily indicate leukemia, the source of the condition will need to be identified if it is found to exceed the levels and duration of a normal immune response to an infection.
The main causes of elevated white blood cells include:
- To fight a viral, fungal, bacterial, or parasitic infection
- A negative reaction to a drug that triggers an immune and white blood cell response
- Disease or malfunction that causes the bone marrow to overproduce white blood cells
- Disease or malfunction in the immune system that triggers an overproduction of white blood cells
When a high white blood cell count is not caused by general infections and immune system malfunctions or responses, it may be an indication of a more specific issue or condition, such as:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
- Allergy, especially severe allergic reactions
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia
- Drugs, such as corticosteroids and epinephrine
- Infections, bacterial or viral
- Polycythemia vera
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Stress, such as severe emotional or physical stress
- Whooping cough
Because a higher than normal white blood cell count is detected through a blood test, typically during a diagnostic evaluation to find the source of a specific symptom or a set of symptoms such as listed above, it is important to get timely medical attention for any symptoms that seem out of the ordinary and do not resolve on their own over time. The board-certified oncologists and blood cancer specialists at the Cancer Center of Southern California in Los Angeles offer the most cutting-edge and state of the art diagnostic technologies available.
White blood cells, also known as leukocytes, are broken up into five categories, and all have specific functions within the immune system:
Monocytes – largest of the white blood cells, have the exclusive ability to identify and engulf foreign particles
Neutrophils – attach to the walls of healthy blood vessels in order to prevent access of bacteria and infections through cuts or wounds
Lymphocytes – responsible for producing antibodies, lymphocytes also create immunity by storing a memory of the immune response once an illness or infection has been effectively targeted.
Basophils – responsible for the production of histamines, anticoagulants, and antibodies, and are part of the immune system’s “first response” against foreign invaders.
Eosinophiles – the main function of eosinophiles is to produce the toxins responsible for killing pathogens in the body, specifically parasites and worms. A high presence of eosinophiles in the body can be an indication of an allergic reaction.
Next, read Leukemia Cell Treatment.