Reasons for an Increased White Blood Cell Count

By Max. D Gray. Updated: August 23, 2017
Reasons for an Increased White Blood Cell Count

White blood cells, or leukocytes, are responsible for defending the body from viruses, infections and any other external factor that poses a threat to health. Given their important role in the body, having a good white blood cell count is essential,. However, when values are higher than usual, it is important to see a specialist to determine the reason for the increase and to assess your general state of health. In this oneHOWTO article, we'll explain some of the possible reasons for an increased white blood cell count.

You may also be interested in: What Foods Increase White Blood Cells

Different types of white blood cells

Before going into the possible reasons for a high white blood cell count, it is important to distinguish between the different types of leucocytes because each type should be present at a specific level to maintain health. The following are types of white blood cells:

  • Lymphocytes: produce antibodies and destroy abnormal cells.
  • Monocytes: are responsible for phagocytosis, or the ingestion of certain organisms or cellular debris.
  • Neutrophils: are the most abundant group, and like monocytes perform phagocytosis of organisms such as fungi and bacteria.
  • Basophils: are the least abundant group, and are involved in immunity response processes to support the release of substances such as histamines or serotonin.
  • Eosinophils: are responsible not only for phagocytosis but also for regulating allergic responses and hypersensitivity reactions that occur when a foreign organism enters the body.

Normal white blood cell levels

To be completely healthy, each microlitre of blood should contain between 4,000 and 11,000 white blood cells, although some experts suggest that the maximum values should be 10,000 or 10,500 depending on age, so this upper limit will be at the discretion of the laboratory. It is said that the leukocyte count is high when the number of leukocytes exceeds 11,000 per microlitre of blood.

Having an elevated white blood cell count is known as leucocytosis, and it indicates that the body is fighting a virus or infection, which could be just temporary or, for suffers of major illness, could be a chronic complaint. It is important to find out what the causes of an increased white blood cell count are in order to begin the appropriate treatment.

Possible causes of an increased white blood cell count

High leukocytes in the blood may be due to the following:

  • Infections, viruses or bacteria. When we catch the flu, a virus or an infection, our body reacts by increasing the number of white blood cells to fight the foreign bodies and maintain health.
  • Anaemia can also produce an increase in white blood cells.
  • Symptoms of severe stress are also responsible for an increase in leukocytes.
  • The consumption of certain types of medications, drugs or narcotics can also have the same effect.
  • Severe allergic reactions put the body's defense system on alert, causing an increase in white blood cells.
  • The presence of tumors or leukemia also cause a high white blood cell count.
  • Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Diseases such measles, myelofibrosis or whooping cough also produce an increase in lymphocytes.
  • Pulmonary infarction
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Having a smoking habit.

What should I do if I have a high count?

If you are suffering from an infectious, bacterial or viral illness, or you've just recovered from one, then it is normal to have a high white blood cell count. As soon as the virus, bacteria or infection are under control, the levels will return to normal.

If you have not recently suffered from any illness of this kind and a blood test has indicated an elevated leukocyte count, then it is important to see a hematologist for a medical review of the tests and a thorough check-up in order to pinpoint the cause of the increased number of white blood cells in your body. Only a specialist can determine what has caused the condition and the proper treatment regime.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Reasons for an Increased White Blood Cell Count, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

  • Do not be alarmed, the increase in white blood cells is normal after the flu or an infection.
  • If you have doubts regarding the result of the analysis, it's best you visit a hematologist.

Write a comment

What did you think of this article?
Simonette Baltazar-Vermillion
My daughter, who is 17 has 12.3 GM. I looked into her past results and it's always been between 12.3 to 14.6 range in the last 5 years. I'm worried why her WBC hasn't come down. Should I be worried? What tests should I ask the doctor to order to see if there is underlying health problems with my doctor? She has irregular periods. I'm not sure if this is connected to her WBC. Please advice.
Muraleedharan pillai
My Wac count is 40000/cumm and Hb is 10.4GM%.I am a diabetic patient for last 5years now fasting is other infections not reasently
Arienne Owens
My white cell count is 28,00.. But i have no infections n my body. The dr wants to do a bone marrow test
madhab baro
why WBC are increase in our body?what happens when the eosinophils are increase and how to treat it
shweta r bhaghat
I m 23 years old and my wbc count is 11,200/cumm
i recently had a blood test and noticed my WBC was 12000 per micro liter. The doctor asked for further tests to know the reason for this elevated count. I have no other symptoms of anemia, leukemia or arthritis, so hopefully it's not too serious. Could anyone give me some suggestions to know what the reason for my increased white blood cell count could be and how I can lower it?
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Giulia,
The reason for your increased white blood cell count can still have many explanations. We'd advise you to go for an allergy test to rule out your high WBC levels are not due to some kind of allergy you may not know you have yet.
Other than that, it doesn't sound too serious, though keep to the tests your doctor is ordering in case there is an underlying problem with your white blood cells.
Lakshmi P.J
My name is Lakshmi PJ ,my sister's name is Athira ,she's W.B.C is 20000-24000 up .What is the problem of this .Please tell me
OneHowTo Editor
As you can read in this article, there are several possible reasons for an elevated white blood cell count. Take the results to your doctor so he or she can read the full results and get a proper diagnosis.
very useful to me. Thankyou.
Respected Sir
my wbcs count increased upto 14000 and in my foot there is continuous swelling from 2 mothns and it pains also when i go to rest in night or afternoon
i already ate anti bacterials n also medicine of blood infection but there is nothng change in my condition
please tell me somthing what was it??
Rahul dev
I m suffering from inreasing the count of for this what should i do for balance it(wbc).
OneHowTo Editor
We recommend taking many anti-oxidant foods such as green leaf vegetables, vitamin-c and omega-3 fatty acids. Drink green tea instead of coffee
Sir my daughter has 20000 wbc count and haemoglobin is 9.6 what should I do
OneHowTo Editor
If you are concerned about the amount of white blood cell count, you should take blood test results to your daughter's GP so he or she can analyze the results. The amount of hemoglobin doesn't sound concerning.
Hope this helps
Prashanth pujar
For an 63 aged person having wbc counts 11, that harmful?
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Prashanth,

We cannot diagnose any medical conditions in the comments to these articles. These are for informative purposes only, a qualified doctor alone can carry out a sufficient diagnosis. According to normal white blood cell count, this is a little high. However, there could be mitigating factors such as genetics, pre-existing conditions, lifestyle, weight, etc. Please seek a doctor's advice if you are unsure of your health.
I had suffered the G.I.S.T DURING THE YEAR 2010 and i took imatiniv 400mg for three year my PET CECT SCAN was normal. What can be the possible reasons? Now WBC count is increasing. (ONCOLOGY CASE).
My brother suffering from fever,before this he got a mumps.after this fever starts.and dodocument or advised to done the sonographysonography.and he have pus in penis.wats the reason plz tel me
OneHowTo Editor
You should really go to the doctor pretty urgently so your brother can have a proper check-up
sir i have 42000 wbc in our body so what precaution can maintain level of wbc cells??
Alba Charles (oneHOWTO editor)
This level of white blood cells is very high, you should visit a doctor for a proper diagnose.
respected sir, i wanna ask u 1question.. nd que was what's eat food to increase WBC? so human knws what cane he/she eating like that food so increase WBC so that food he/she never eat that plz suggest me hame kya khana chahye or konsa food nai khana chaye.?
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Vipali,
Here's an article that might be useful for you:
How long does it take for the WBC to reach 28000 counts. Does it take hours days or weeks
Reasons for an Increased White Blood Cell Count
Reasons for an Increased White Blood Cell Count

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