If the number of white blood cells in the blood exceeds the normal value, doctors speak of one Leukocytosiswhich in itself is moderately harmless, but can be a harbinger of the presence of other, more serious diseases.
The only way to find an increased number of white blood cells is to do a blood test. This routine medical examination examines the condition of the blood and its composition from the most important components, including the white blood cells.
The name of the Leukocytosis is derived from the Greek foreign word syllable "leukos", which translates as "white". With leukocytosis, the white blood cells are meant.
Human blood is made up of a multitude of different components, one of which is the white blood cells. Since each of the blood components has been assigned its own task, it is important for the body that the concentration of the individual components is kept in the correct amount.
This is no longer the case with leukocytosis, as the white blood cells are more common in the blood than they should. Typically, the amount of white blood cells found in a healthy person's body is around four to eleven microliters. If the limit of eleven liters is exceeded, there is leukocytosis. At extreme values beyond 100,000 microliters, there is a case of so-called hyperleukocytosis.
The causes of the Leukocytosis can vary, from harmless to harbingers of life-threatening diseases. As a rule, leukocytosis is caused by a harmless infection. One of the main tasks of the white blood cells is the immune defense.
If the immune system registers a pathogenic foreign body that has penetrated the body, it is up to the white blood cells as one of the main elements of the non-specific immune system to track down and destroy the foreign body. So it comes as no surprise when the number of white blood cells increases as part of an infection; leukocytosis in this case is neither dangerous nor worthy of further investigation.
People with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as those with Crohn's disease, a type of chronic bowel inflammation, are more likely to have high levels of white blood cells in their blood. Leukocytosis can also be caused by the administration of medication. It is known that anti-inflammatory agents such as glucocorticoids can inadvertently stimulate the body to increase the production of white blood cells.
Much more serious, however, and a closer examination of the leukocytosis becomes mandatory, is the fact that excessively high levels of white blood cells - like any other type of blood abnormality - can be a possible sign of leukemia, blood cancer.
In contrast to diseases in the narrower sense, there is no such thing Leukocytosis own characteristic symptoms. It is inconspicuous for the patient, precisely because it causes neither pain nor other complaints.
The only way to find an increased number of white blood cells is to do a blood test. This routine medical examination examines the condition of the blood and its composition from the most important components, including the white blood cells. If leukocytosis is diagnosed, various factors determine whether further examinations are necessary.
If there is a slight increase in white blood cells, the attending physician will take this as an opportunity to do another blood test at the next visit to the doctor to determine whether the mild leukocytosis was only temporary and whether the blood count has returned to normal.
The same applies if the attending physician has discovered an infection and thus has an initial suspicion of what might have caused the leukocytosis. In the case of hyperleukocytosis already mentioned, i.e. the case of extremely high leukocytosis, further approaches are necessary in order to find the cause of the leukocytosis.
Leukocytosis must always be examined and treated by a doctor. This disease is a serious disease that, in the worst case scenario, can be fatal. As a rule, however, the underlying disease that is responsible for leukocytosis must also be treated. The other complications and symptoms of this disease depend very much on the severity of the disease and its cause.
For this reason, it is not possible to make a general prediction about the further course. In severe cases, those affected suffer from leukemia and are extremely limited in their everyday life. The patients may therefore also be dependent on the help of other people in their everyday life. The quality of life of those affected is also significantly reduced by leukocytosis.
In many cases, however, treatment of the underlying disease is not possible, so that only the symptoms can be limited. The patients are dependent on lifelong therapy that is supposed to make their everyday lives easier. It may also lead to a reduced life expectancy for the person affected. Long-term illness can also lead to consequential damage.
If you have general symptoms of illness such as fever, you do not necessarily have to see a doctor. However, if the symptoms persist longer than usual or even get worse over time, medical advice is required. If there is already a specific suspicion of leukocytosis, the nearest doctor's office must be visited. Severe infections and symptoms of tuberculosis indicate an advanced disease that should be treated promptly.
If the leukocytosis remains untreated, this can lead to complications and, in an emergency, to the death of the patient. For this reason, the warning signs described should be taken seriously, even if there is no specific suspicion of leukocytosis. It is best for those affected to consult their family doctor immediately, who can make the diagnosis and initiate further measures. Depending on the findings and symptoms, the doctor will consult other specialists for therapy. Typically, leukocytosis is treated by internists, dermatologists, cardiologists, and hematologists. Children must be presented to a pediatrician if the symptoms are mentioned.
Precisely because leukocytosis is not actually a disease, a (slight) increase in the concentration of white blood cells in the blood is not an indication for treatment. Depending on the severity of the leukocytosis, it is crucial to determine the actual cause.
These are usually infections or a side effect from anti-inflammatory medication or just plain stress. Nevertheless, depending on the duration and severity of the leukocytosis, more serious diseases such as leukemia must be ruled out as a possible cause.
Except for treating the underlying disease, there is no treatment for leukocytosis itself.
The prognosis for leukocytosis is based on different factors. Different types of leukocytosis have a better chance of recovery than others. Acute leukemia is treatable in many cases. If the disease is detected early, the prognosis is good. In general, the chances of survival have risen sharply in recent years.Modern therapies improve the chances of recovery and alleviate the symptoms. This means that even seriously ill patients can maintain a certain quality of life. Nowadays, even seriously ill people can survive longer.
The stage of the disease also plays a role. If leukemia has already developed, the chances of recovery are poorer. The decisive factor is how well the therapy works. The age and general condition of the patient also play a role. In the case of untreated acute leukemia, the average survival period is three months. With treatment, 95 out of 100 children and 70 out of 100 adults survive five years.
The prognosis is worse for acute myeloid leukemia, which is fatal in half of the cases. In the event of a relapse, more aggressive therapy is often chosen. The strenuous procedures can lead to an overall worsening of patient life expectancy. Patients can actively support therapy by changing their lifestyle and also looking for unusual symptoms that could indicate leukemia.
As far as this is possible at all, leukocytosis can be prevented by avoiding the underlying disease as its cause. Often this is not possible if, for example, there is a hopeless inflammatory disease of a chronic nature or the person concerned has to take temporary anti-inflammatory agents because of another disease.
The intensity of the follow-up depends on the degree of leukocytosis. Sufferers of this disorder depend on lifelong treatment in order to alleviate the symptoms and avoid further complications. An early diagnosis and treatment have a very positive effect on the further course of the disease. Those affected should pay particular attention to a healthy lifestyle. This is based on a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Leukocytosis does not necessarily have to be treated. If you have high levels of white blood cells, the most important thing to do is to have your blood checked regularly. In this way, you can react quickly to an increase in leukocytosis, for example by changing your medication or by taking appropriate self-help measures.
Sometimes it is enough to reduce stress in everyday life and at work. Changing your diet can also help bring slightly elevated levels back to normal. Likewise, exercise or a visit to the sauna, because all measures that reduce stress naturally regulate the proportion of white and red blood cells in the blood.
If the leukocytosis persists for a long time, a doctor's visit is required. The symptoms may have a serious cause that needs to be determined during an extensive examination.
If leukemia is the cause, treatment must be started immediately. Since blood cancer is a serious disease, the person affected should also seek therapeutic help during treatment. It is appropriate to support the therapy with the measures suggested by the doctor in order to improve the chance of recovery.