Elevated white blood cell count (also known as leukocytosis) indicates that there is an increase in the production of white blood cells (WBC or leukocytes) in the body. It is the opposite of leukopenia, which is the decrease in the number of WBC. The main function of leukocytes is to fight infections within the body, which can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. High white blood cell count in the body can indicate an underlying health issue, such as anemia, bone marrow tumor, inflammatory disease, emotional or physical anxiety, tissue damage, infectious diseases, or even leukemia. However, further examination must be done to figure out the exact cause of the condition.
The tests performed may vary from one patient to another, depending on their medical history. If you have leukocytosis, your doctor will most likely do a blood test called complete blood test (CBC). He or she will be able to determine the cause and the suitable treatment options through the test results. Your doctor may even go through the list of medications that you are currently taking. If the test shows that the condition is very serious, you may have to undergo a bone marrow biopsy since the high WBC might be a sign of a bone marrow disease.
High WBC can also lead to infertility in both women. A woman who has leukocytosis might be allergic to her partner’s semen. Her body may misrecognize sperm as an invasive object and thus develops antibodies that can damage or even kill sperm. In order to overcome this problem, her doctor will prescribe her antibiotics so that her allergic reaction level to semen can be reduced, or even eliminated. However, you shouldn’t worry too much because this condition is very rare.
Leukocytosis can also occur during pregnancy. Commonly, when a woman is pregnant, the WBC in the uterus produce antibodies. The leukocytes can misidentify the fetus as an invasive object and attack it, causing miscarriage. The baby can also carry high white blood cells and therefore a pregnant woman must avoid several kinds of meats that can increase the production of WBC, such as sausages and salamis. With a healthy diet, the risk of miscarriage and high WBC in the baby can be reduced.
Symptoms include fever, bleeding or bruising, difficulty breathing, sudden weight loss, fatigue, dizziness, and pain or tingling in the arms, legs, or abdomen. If you suspect that you might have high WBC, you should seek medical attention immediately.