High leukocytes or leukocytosis is a condition when the number of white blood cells is too much. Leukocytosis can be caused by various conditions , such as inflammation, infection, allergies , to blood cancer .

Leukocytes or white blood cells play a role in protecting themselves from infection and disease. When the body is attacked by a disease, leukocyte levels will increase in response to the disease. High leukocytes can be a sign that something is not normal in a person's body.

Leukocytosis can be treated with several treatment methods, depending on the cause. For example, antibiotic drugs are used to treat leukocytosis due to infection, as well as chemotherapy or radiotherapy to treat leukocytosis caused by blood cancer.

Normal Leukocyte Count

Leukocytosis occurs when the number of white blood cells in the body is higher than normal. The normal white blood cell count varies, depending on age. The following is the normal number of white blood cells per microliter of blood (cells/µL of blood) by age group:

  • Newborns: 400–34,000
  • Toddlers (3-5 years): 000–12,000
  • Youth (12-15 years): 500–9,000
  • Adults (15 years and over): 500–10,500

The normal leukocyte count is a combined number of various types of leukocytes, namely neutrophils , eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes , and monocytes.

Symptoms of Leukocytosis

Symptoms of leukocytosis that appear in sufferers can vary, depending on the cause. However, high leukocytes are generally characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • The body feels tired or tired
  • Night sweats
  • It's easier to bruise and bleed
  • Weight loss drastically
  • Itching and rashes appear on the skin
  • Hard to breathe

When to see a doctor

If you experience the symptoms above, immediately see a doctor so that further examination can be carried out. Leukocytosis can be known through laboratory tests on patients.

In certain conditions, such as leukemia, severe infections, rejection of transplanted organs, sepsis , or tumors, leukocytes can increase to above 100,000 cells per microliter. This condition, known as leukostasis or hyperviscosity syndrome, can disrupt blood flow.

Hyperviscosity syndrome is rare but is classified as an emergency condition so it must be treated by a doctor immediately. Immediately go to the emergency room if you suffer from the above conditions and experience the following symptoms of leukostasis:

  • Impaired vision
  • Bleeding in the mouth, stomach and intestines
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Hard to breathe

Causes of Leukocytosis

In general, leukocytosis occurs due to the following factors:

  • Drug reactions that increase the production of white blood cells
  • Increased production of white blood cells to fight infection
  • An immune system disorder that increases the production of white blood cells
  • Abnormal production of white blood cells due to disorders in the bone marrow

Some examples of conditions or diseases that make high leukocytes are:

  • stress
  • Allergies , especially severe ones
  • Bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis and whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Certain drugs, such as corticosteroids and epinephrine
  • Rheumatoid arthritis _
  • Have had surgery to remove the spleen (splenectomy)
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Smoking habit
  • Leukemia

Diagnosis of Leukocytosis

To diagnose leukocytosis, the doctor will ask the patient about the symptoms they are experiencing, medical history, the types of drugs used, and whether they have allergies or not. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination to check for abnormalities in the patient's body.

The doctor will also do a complete blood count to find out the number and type of white blood cells in the patient. The blood sample will also be examined through a blood smear ( peripheral blood smear ), to find out the dominant type of white blood cell.

Doctors can also carry out other investigations if the cause of leukocytosis in patients is still unclear. Investigations that can be carried out by patients include:

  • Examination of phlegm or chest X-ray , to see if there is an infection that causes a high white blood cell count
  • Bone marrow aspiration , to check for abnormalities in the bone marrow, such as in leukemia patients
  • Genetic examination, to determine whether leukocytosis is caused by genetic changes

Leukocytosis Treatment

Treatment for lowering the white blood cell count depends on the cause. Some methods of leukocytosis treatment are:

  • Giving antibiotics , if leukocytosis is caused by a bacterial infection
  • Administration of antihistamines , if the leukocytosis is caused by an allergic reaction
  • Discontinuation or replacement of drugs, if leukocytosis is caused by side effects of drugs
  • Giving anti-inflammatory drugs (anti-inflammatory), if leukocytosis is caused by inflammation
  • Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and bone marrow transplantation , if the leukocytosis is caused by leukemia

Leukocytosis complications

A complication of leukocytosis is leukostasis or blood hyperviscosity syndrome. Leukostasis occurs when the white blood cell count is more than 100,000 cells/µL of blood. This condition can lead to impaired blood flow, even a stroke.

In patients who have blood hyperviscosity syndrome, doctors will perform leukapheresis to reduce the number of white blood cells. This procedure is carried out with a special tool that can separate white blood cells from other blood cells, and then be removed from the body.

Prevention of Leukocytosis

Prevention of leukocytosis depends on the cause. These preventive measures include:

  • Avoid allergy triggers
  • Quit smoking
  • Adopting a clean and healthy lifestyle to prevent infection
  • Do not take random drugs, especially drugs for inflammation, and take drugs according to doctor's instructions
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