The discovery that a person has an elevated white blood cell count almost never comes as a surprise, as testing for such is usually due to other illness. Most associate a high count with the body fighting an infection, and that is generally true, but there are many other reasons for the cell count to be elevated.
What Are White Blood Cells?
Also called leukocytes, white blood cells defend against disease and fight serious infection in the body. These cells are found throughout the body, both in the blood and in the lymphatic system. The number, or count, of the cells in the blood is a good indicator of the presence of disease.
What is Normal?
Generally speaking, 4,500 to 10,000 white blood cells/mL is considered in the normal range. They increase in number when disease or infection is present by surrounding foreign organisms in an effort to destroy them. White blood cell count can double in a matter of just a few hours.
Cell Count Over 12,000
Several diseases are associated with white cell counts in excess of 12,000, such as leukemia and ovarian cancer, but a serious condition called sepsis stands out as one of the more recognizable conditions.
Sepsis is a condition when the entire body is in an inflammatory state. Some call this "blood poisoning," but it is more correctly referred to as septicemia---presence of pathogenic organisms in the blood-stream.
Other Possible Indicators
Other than sepsis, having a white cell count above 12,000 may be an indicator of stress, hay fever, sthma or cancer.
Certain medications prescribed to treat other conditions may be the reason for elevated white cell counts. Capastat sulfate is used for treating patients with renal insufficiency. Alpho Proetinase Inhibitor is prescribed to prevent the breakdown of tissue in the lungs. Prolastin is taken to treat the blood.
Elevated white blood cell count can mean a variety a things, some serious. Only a blood test can determine your exact count and your doctor can explain the meaning and treatment for usually high results.
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