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High WBC count in the blood

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High WBC count in the blood
Last update: 21/01/2021

What is a high count of WBC in the blood called?

  • Leukocytosis

What is the normal count of WBC in the blood?

If you need to know which are the WBC reference ranges or you require more information about the role of WBC in the blood, you can visit normal WBC count in the blood

What does a high count of WBC in the blood mean?

A WBC count above the normal range is called leukocytosis. WBCs (White Blood Cells), also called leukocytes, are usually measured in thousand per microliter (µl).

An increase in the total amount of leukocytes in the blood is usually due to the increase of only a single type of leukocytes (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils or eosinophils). For that reason, it is interesting for the diagnosis to know the differential count (percentages of the different types of leukocytes).

The most frequent cause for an elevation of leukocytes is an infection. Other common causes for leukocytosis are:

  • Stress
  • Inflammation (autoimmune or allergic disorders)
  • Leukemia, myeloproliferative disorders
  • Burns

Signs and symptoms of leukocytosis include fever, bruising, petechiae, fatigue, anemia or weight loss. Leukocytosis or a high WBC count means:

  • Mild leukocytosis (10.5 - 13 x 103/µl in adults):

    A mild leukocytosis is not a matter for concern. Most cases are related to banal causes such as mild infections or non-infectious inflammations.

    Sometimes it may be due to physiologic leukocytosis resulting from excitement, stress, exercise, pain, cold or heat, anesthesia.

    In any case, a visit to your doctor to ask about it may be a good idea.

  • Moderate leukocytosis (13 - 30 x 103/µl in adults):

    It is necessary to know the reason behind a moderate leukocytosis. The differential count (percentages of the different types of leukocytes) may add interesting information to get a diagnosis. Many infectious diseases cause a moderate leukocytosis.

    You should visit your doctor if you feel fatigue, fever, weight loss or night sweats.

    Your doctor, studying your symptoms and the rest of your blood test may give you a diagnosis and the proper treatment.

  • Marked leukocytosis (30 - 100 x 103/µl in adults):

    A WBC count above 30 x 103 per cubic millimeter of blood is considered a marked leukocytosis.

    It may due to certain temporary diseases (e.g., measles, pertussis) or in case of malignant neoplasms such as leukemia where the increase on WBC count will be permanent and progressive.

  • Severe leukocytosis (> 100 x 103/µl in adults):

    A white blood cell count over 100 x 103 per cubic millimeter of blood is usually due to leukemia or myeloproliferative disorders.

    Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow in which a large number of immature white blood cells are being produced or disease states in which mature forms live an exceptionally long time.

Which factors can increase the WBC count in the blood?

There are some health circumstances or drugs than can raise your WBC count:

  • Pregnancy
  • Splenectomy
  • Stress
  • Bleeding
  • Obesity
  • Burns
  • Tobacco
  • Injury
  • Drugs
    • Catecholamine
      • Epinephrine
    • Corticosteroids
    • Glucocorticoids
      • Adrenocorticotropic hormone
    • Psychotropic drugs
      • Lithium

Which diseases can increase your WBC count in the blood?

A WBC count level higher than normal may be a sign of the following diseases:

  • Helminthiasis
  • Measles
  • Varicella
  • Rubella
  • Whooping cough
  • Tuberculosis
  • Mononucleosis
  • Guillain–Barré syndrome
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Asthma
  • Leukemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Large-cell lung cancer

What can I do to lower the WBC count in the blood?

In case of an increase of WBC count, is necessary to know the underlying reason to prescribe a proper treatment. Your doctor may consider:

  • Study the medication you are taking looking for possible interferences.
  • Prescribe you antibiotics in case of an infection.
  • Prescribe you antihistamines in case of an allergic inflammation.
  • Leukapheresis, a medical procedure in which white blood cells are separated from a sample of blood.

Where can I find more information about WBC count in the blood?

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Which values are considered a high WBC count in the blood?

The following values are considered to be above the normal range:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in number/µl (microliter). They are an example of a healthy woman of about 45 years old with no known disease and not taking any medication. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

WBC Count
Mild leukocytosis
10.6 x 103/µl10.7 x 103/µl10.8 x 103/µl10.9 x 103/µl11 x 103/µl11.1 x 103/µl11.2 x 103/µl11.3 x 103/µl
11.4 x 103/µl11.5 x 103/µl11.6 x 103/µl11.7 x 103/µl11.8 x 103/µl11.9 x 103/µl12 x 103/µl12.1 x 103/µl
12.2 x 103/µl12.3 x 103/µl12.4 x 103/µl12.5 x 103/µl12.6 x 103/µl12.7 x 103/µl12.8 x 103/µl12.9 x 103/µl
13 x 103/µl       
Moderate leukocytosis
13.1 x 103/µl13.2 x 103/µl13.3 x 103/µl13.4 x 103/µl13.5 x 103/µl13.6 x 103/µl13.7 x 103/µl13.8 x 103/µl
13.9 x 103/µl14 x 103/µl14.1 x 103/µl14.2 x 103/µl14.3 x 103/µl14.4 x 103/µl14.5 x 103/µl14.6 x 103/µl
14.7 x 103/µl14.8 x 103/µl14.9 x 103/µl15 x 103/µl15.1 x 103/µl15.2 x 103/µl15.3 x 103/µl15.4 x 103/µl
15.5 x 103/µl15.6 x 103/µl15.7 x 103/µl15.8 x 103/µl15.9 x 103/µl16 x 103/µl16.1 x 103/µl16.2 x 103/µl
16.3 x 103/µl16.4 x 103/µl16.5 x 103/µl16.6 x 103/µl16.7 x 103/µl16.8 x 103/µl16.9 x 103/µl17 x 103/µl
17.1 x 103/µl17.2 x 103/µl17.3 x 103/µl17.4 x 103/µl17.5 x 103/µl17.6 x 103/µl17.7 x 103/µl17.8 x 103/µl
17.9 x 103/µl18 x 103/µl18.1 x 103/µl18.2 x 103/µl18.3 x 103/µl18.4 x 103/µl18.5 x 103/µl18.6 x 103/µl
18.7 x 103/µl18.8 x 103/µl18.9 x 103/µl19 x 103/µl19.1 x 103/µl19.2 x 103/µl19.3 x 103/µl19.4 x 103/µl
19.5 x 103/µl19.6 x 103/µl19.7 x 103/µl19.8 x 103/µl19.9 x 103/µl20 x 103/µl20.1 x 103/µl20.2 x 103/µl
20.3 x 103/µl20.4 x 103/µl20.5 x 103/µl20.6 x 103/µl20.7 x 103/µl20.8 x 103/µl20.9 x 103/µl21 x 103/µl
21.1 x 103/µl21.2 x 103/µl21.3 x 103/µl21.4 x 103/µl21.5 x 103/µl21.6 x 103/µl21.7 x 103/µl21.8 x 103/µl
21.9 x 103/µl22 x 103/µl22.1 x 103/µl22.2 x 103/µl22.3 x 103/µl22.4 x 103/µl22.5 x 103/µl22.6 x 103/µl
22.7 x 103/µl22.8 x 103/µl22.9 x 103/µl23 x 103/µl23.1 x 103/µl23.2 x 103/µl23.3 x 103/µl23.4 x 103/µl
23.5 x 103/µl23.6 x 103/µl23.7 x 103/µl23.8 x 103/µl23.9 x 103/µl24 x 103/µl24.1 x 103/µl24.2 x 103/µl
24.3 x 103/µl24.4 x 103/µl24.5 x 103/µl24.6 x 103/µl24.7 x 103/µl24.8 x 103/µl24.9 x 103/µl25 x 103/µl
25.1 x 103/µl25.2 x 103/µl25.3 x 103/µl25.4 x 103/µl25.5 x 103/µl25.6 x 103/µl25.7 x 103/µl25.8 x 103/µl
25.9 x 103/µl26 x 103/µl26.1 x 103/µl26.2 x 103/µl26.3 x 103/µl26.4 x 103/µl26.5 x 103/µl26.6 x 103/µl
26.7 x 103/µl26.8 x 103/µl26.9 x 103/µl27 x 103/µl27.1 x 103/µl27.2 x 103/µl27.3 x 103/µl27.4 x 103/µl
27.5 x 103/µl27.6 x 103/µl27.7 x 103/µl27.8 x 103/µl27.9 x 103/µl28 x 103/µl28.1 x 103/µl28.2 x 103/µl
28.3 x 103/µl28.4 x 103/µl28.5 x 103/µl28.6 x 103/µl28.7 x 103/µl28.8 x 103/µl28.9 x 103/µl29 x 103/µl
29.1 x 103/µl29.2 x 103/µl29.3 x 103/µl29.4 x 103/µl29.5 x 103/µl29.6 x 103/µl29.7 x 103/µl29.8 x 103/µl
29.9 x 103/µl30 x 103/µl      
Marked leukocytosis
30.1 x 103/µl30.2 x 103/µl30.3 x 103/µl30.4 x 103/µl30.5 x 103/µl30.6 x 103/µl30.7 x 103/µl30.8 x 103/µl
30.9 x 103/µl31 x 103/µl31.1 x 103/µl31.2 x 103/µl31.3 x 103/µl31.4 x 103/µl31.5 x 103/µl31.6 x 103/µl
31.7 x 103/µl31.8 x 103/µl31.9 x 103/µl32 x 103/µl32.1 x 103/µl32.2 x 103/µl32.3 x 103/µl32.4 x 103/µl
32.5 x 103/µl32.6 x 103/µl32.7 x 103/µl32.8 x 103/µl32.9 x 103/µl33 x 103/µl33.1 x 103/µl33.2 x 103/µl
33.3 x 103/µl33.4 x 103/µl33.5 x 103/µl33.6 x 103/µl33.7 x 103/µl33.8 x 103/µl33.9 x 103/µl34 x 103/µl
34.1 x 103/µl34.2 x 103/µl34.3 x 103/µl34.4 x 103/µl34.5 x 103/µl34.6 x 103/µl34.7 x 103/µl34.8 x 103/µl
34.9 x 103/µl35 x 103/µl35.1 x 103/µl35.2 x 103/µl35.3 x 103/µl35.4 x 103/µl35.5 x 103/µl35.6 x 103/µl
35.7 x 103/µl35.8 x 103/µl35.9 x 103/µl36 x 103/µl36.1 x 103/µl36.2 x 103/µl36.3 x 103/µl36.4 x 103/µl
36.5 x 103/µl36.6 x 103/µl36.7 x 103/µl36.8 x 103/µl36.9 x 103/µl37 x 103/µl37.1 x 103/µl37.2 x 103/µl
37.3 x 103/µl37.4 x 103/µl37.5 x 103/µl37.6 x 103/µl37.7 x 103/µl37.8 x 103/µl37.9 x 103/µl38 x 103/µl
38.1 x 103/µl38.2 x 103/µl38.3 x 103/µl38.4 x 103/µl38.5 x 103/µl38.6 x 103/µl38.7 x 103/µl38.8 x 103/µl
38.9 x 103/µl39 x 103/µl39.1 x 103/µl39.2 x 103/µl39.3 x 103/µl39.4 x 103/µl39.5 x 103/µl39.6 x 103/µl
39.7 x 103/µl39.8 x 103/µl39.9 x 103/µl40 x 103/µl40.1 x 103/µl40.2 x 103/µl40.3 x 103/µl40.4 x 103/µl
40.5 x 103/µl40.6 x 103/µl40.7 x 103/µl40.8 x 103/µl40.9 x 103/µl41 x 103/µl41.1 x 103/µl41.2 x 103/µl
41.3 x 103/µl41.4 x 103/µl41.5 x 103/µl41.6 x 103/µl41.7 x 103/µl41.8 x 103/µl41.9 x 103/µl42 x 103/µl
42.1 x 103/µl42.2 x 103/µl42.3 x 103/µl42.4 x 103/µl42.5 x 103/µl42.6 x 103/µl42.7 x 103/µl42.8 x 103/µl
42.9 x 103/µl43 x 103/µl43.1 x 103/µl43.2 x 103/µl43.3 x 103/µl43.4 x 103/µl43.5 x 103/µl43.6 x 103/µl
43.7 x 103/µl43.8 x 103/µl43.9 x 103/µl44 x 103/µl44.1 x 103/µl44.2 x 103/µl44.3 x 103/µl44.4 x 103/µl
44.5 x 103/µl44.6 x 103/µl44.7 x 103/µl44.8 x 103/µl44.9 x 103/µl45 x 103/µl45.1 x 103/µl45.2 x 103/µl
45.3 x 103/µl45.4 x 103/µl45.5 x 103/µl45.6 x 103/µl45.7 x 103/µl45.8 x 103/µl45.9 x 103/µl46 x 103/µl
46.1 x 103/µl46.2 x 103/µl46.3 x 103/µl46.4 x 103/µl46.5 x 103/µl46.6 x 103/µl46.7 x 103/µl46.8 x 103/µl
46.9 x 103/µl47 x 103/µl47.1 x 103/µl47.2 x 103/µl47.3 x 103/µl47.4 x 103/µl47.5 x 103/µl47.6 x 103/µl
47.7 x 103/µl47.8 x 103/µl47.9 x 103/µl48 x 103/µl48.1 x 103/µl48.2 x 103/µl48.3 x 103/µl48.4 x 103/µl
48.5 x 103/µl48.6 x 103/µl48.7 x 103/µl48.8 x 103/µl48.9 x 103/µl49 x 103/µl49.1 x 103/µl49.2 x 103/µl
49.3 x 103/µl49.4 x 103/µl49.5 x 103/µl49.6 x 103/µl49.7 x 103/µl49.8 x 103/µl49.9 x 103/µl50 x 103/µl
50.1 x 103/µl50.2 x 103/µl50.3 x 103/µl50.4 x 103/µl50.5 x 103/µl50.6 x 103/µl50.7 x 103/µl50.8 x 103/µl
50.9 x 103/µl51 x 103/µl51.1 x 103/µl51.2 x 103/µl51.3 x 103/µl51.4 x 103/µl51.5 x 103/µl51.6 x 103/µl
51.7 x 103/µl51.8 x 103/µl51.9 x 103/µl52 x 103/µl52.1 x 103/µl52.2 x 103/µl52.3 x 103/µl52.4 x 103/µl
52.5 x 103/µl52.6 x 103/µl52.7 x 103/µl52.8 x 103/µl52.9 x 103/µl53 x 103/µl53.1 x 103/µl53.2 x 103/µl
53.3 x 103/µl53.4 x 103/µl53.5 x 103/µl53.6 x 103/µl53.7 x 103/µl53.8 x 103/µl53.9 x 103/µl54 x 103/µl
54.1 x 103/µl54.2 x 103/µl54.3 x 103/µl54.4 x 103/µl54.5 x 103/µl54.6 x 103/µl54.7 x 103/µl54.8 x 103/µl
54.9 x 103/µl55 x 103/µl55.1 x 103/µl55.2 x 103/µl55.3 x 103/µl55.4 x 103/µl55.5 x 103/µl55.6 x 103/µl
55.7 x 103/µl55.8 x 103/µl55.9 x 103/µl56 x 103/µl56.1 x 103/µl56.2 x 103/µl56.3 x 103/µl56.4 x 103/µl
56.5 x 103/µl56.6 x 103/µl56.7 x 103/µl56.8 x 103/µl56.9 x 103/µl57 x 103/µl57.1 x 103/µl57.2 x 103/µl
57.3 x 103/µl57.4 x 103/µl57.5 x 103/µl57.6 x 103/µl57.7 x 103/µl57.8 x 103/µl57.9 x 103/µl58 x 103/µl
58.1 x 103/µl58.2 x 103/µl58.3 x 103/µl58.4 x 103/µl58.5 x 103/µl58.6 x 103/µl58.7 x 103/µl58.8 x 103/µl
58.9 x 103/µl59 x 103/µl59.1 x 103/µl59.2 x 103/µl59.3 x 103/µl59.4 x 103/µl59.5 x 103/µl59.6 x 103/µl
59.7 x 103/µl59.8 x 103/µl59.9 x 103/µl60 x 103/µl60.1 x 103/µl60.2 x 103/µl60.3 x 103/µl60.4 x 103/µl
60.5 x 103/µl60.6 x 103/µl60.7 x 103/µl60.8 x 103/µl60.9 x 103/µl61 x 103/µl61.1 x 103/µl61.2 x 103/µl
61.3 x 103/µl61.4 x 103/µl61.5 x 103/µl61.6 x 103/µl61.7 x 103/µl61.8 x 103/µl61.9 x 103/µl62 x 103/µl
62.1 x 103/µl62.2 x 103/µl62.3 x 103/µl62.4 x 103/µl62.5 x 103/µl62.6 x 103/µl62.7 x 103/µl62.8 x 103/µl
62.9 x 103/µl63 x 103/µl63.1 x 103/µl63.2 x 103/µl63.3 x 103/µl63.4 x 103/µl63.5 x 103/µl63.6 x 103/µl
Medically reviewed by our Medical staff on 21/01/2021

Bibliography

  • A Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Test. 9th edition. Frances Fischbach. Marshall B. Dunning III. 2014. Pag 67. ISBN-10: 1451190891.
  • Laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures with nursing diagnoses (8th ed), Jane Vincent Corbett, Angela Denise Banks, ISBN: 978-0-13-237332-6, Pag. 46.
  • Essentials of Medical Laboratory Practice. Constance L. Lieseke, Elizabeth A. Zeibig. 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8036-1899-2 Pag: 272.
  • Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE). Version 5.0.Published: November 27, 2017. U.S. Department of health and human Services. Available on: https://ctep.cancer.gov

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