Neutrophils are one type of white blood cell and are actually the most common making up between 50 and 70% of them. The ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is the blood test result indicating the amount of neutrophils. Most of the time this number is shown as neutrophils per cubic millimeter of blood. These are one of the first immune cells to arrive at an inflamed or injured area and high neutrophils may be due to medical conditions like infection or stress.
Causes of High Neutrophils
In most cases a neutrophil level must be over 8000 to be considered abnormally high and there are many causes of this high number.
Physical stress (like pregnancy, emotional stress or intense exercise) may lead to increased levels of neutrophils found in your blood. An example is that if you experience vigorous physical exertion your levels of circulating neutrophils may increase by a factor of eight. When the cells arrive at your tissues, they may die providing nutrition for the muscle cells. They can also release a substance that is antifungal and fights fungal infections.
Neutrophils are the body’s first defense against pathogens. This means that if a pathogen enters your body and leads to inflammation, neutrophils (as well as other immune cells) go to the affected area. It is important to note that neutrophils will self-destruct if they don’t detect any agents in the body that could cause disease. If a bacterial invasion occurs, however, bone marrow will produce large numbers of these cells. They can also be found in high quantities if you have a fungal or parasitic infection.
Myelogenous leukemia is a type of cancer that affects both the blood as well as the blood marrow (the spongy tissue found within your bones that is where your blood cells are produced). This cancer gets its name because it specifically affects the myeloid cells which are white blood cells that in a healthy person become various mature blood cells including platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells. Myelogenous leukemia can be acute or chronic. Common symptoms of both types of the disease include unusual bleeding, frequent infections, pale skin, shortness of breath, fatigue, lethargy, bone pain and fever.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of chronic inflammatory disorder which affects your feet and hands, specifically the small joints there. It can cause painful swelling and may eventually lead to joint deformity or bone erosion. A specific and complex type of arthritis is gout and this includes sudden and severe attacks of tenderness, redness and pain in your joints. It frequently occurs by the base of your big toe. Although gout is more common in men, women’s risk of developing it increases after they reach menopause.
5. Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatic fever can sometimes develop if strep throat (caused by streptococcus bacteria) isn’t treated adequately and is an inflammatory disease. Although rheumatic fever can affect people of all ages, it most commonly occurs in children who are between 5 and 15 years old. In addition to high neutrophils, rheumatic fever may lead to permanent heart damage (such as heart failure or damaged heart valves), shortness of breath, fatigue, unusual heartbeats, chest pain, tender and painful joints and fever.
Chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis is also known as Hashimoto’s disease and occurs when the immune system begins to attack the thyroid gland. This attack leads to inflammation and hypothyroidism (the thyroid gland becoming underactive). This disease usually has a slow progression over several years and can lead to chronic thyroid damage as well as a decrease in your levels of thyroid hormone. The symptoms of thyroiditis are similar to those of hypothyroidism including puffy face, dry and pale skin, constipation, an increased sensitivity for cold, sluggishness and fatigue.
7. Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney failure more commonly affects those who are hospitalized (especially if they are critically ill and require intensive care). This occurs if the kidneys are suddenly unable to filter the waste products out from your blood. When the kidneys can no longer filter you may notice an accumulation of dangerous waste levels or an imbalance of your blood’s chemical makeup. Some symptoms of acute kidney failure include confusion, fatigue, shortness of breath, drowsiness, fluid retention and decreased urine output.
Although rare, eclampsia can be very serious. It is a pregnancy-related complication which involves a convulsion attack which isn’t caused by any other brain condition (like bleeding within the brain) and affects a woman who has moderate to severe preeclampsia. Preeclampsia occurs during the second half of pregnancy and is a severe condition characterized by sudden high blood pressure as well as edema and/or unusual quantities of protein found in the urine.
9. Medication Effects
Some specific medications can also be a cause of high neutrophils. Lithium carbonate is one medication that can increase the count. This is a form of salt that is used as a prescription to help reduce the effects of mania (an overly excited state). Another medication that can increase your neutrophils count is corticosteroids. These are a type of drugs that mimic the effects of corticosteroid hormone, a natural chemical found in the body. These hormones help control how our body uses nutrients as well as the quantities of salt and water in the urine.
- Ketoacidosis is another possible cause of high neutrophil counts. When someone suffers from this condition the body produces ketones (poisonous chemical substances and acids). These ketones are created if the body has difficulties breaking down fats.
- Hemolytic anemia is another possible explanation and this is when red blood cells get destroyed at a quicker rate than the bone marrow is able to replace them. This can be caused by certain blood disease and can either be inherited or developed later on in life.
- Polycythemia vera is another blood disorder and this causes your bone marrow to produce too large of a quantity of red blood cells. Sometimes this condition will also lead to increased production of other blood cells such as platelets and white blood cells.
- Another possible cause of high neutrophils is myeloid metaplasia. This is when the bone marrow grows in areas of the body it shouldn’t normally.