Neutrophils are found in everyone. They are just a type of white blood cells. An estimated 50 to 70 percent of your white blood cells are actually made up of neutrophils. Doctors can track the number of neutrophils in your body with an absolute neutrophil count (ANC). This blood test shows the number of neutrophils per cubic millimeter of your blood.
Normally, neutrophils are released in higher quantities if you have an injured or inflamed area. These are the first immune cells to be released after an injury, infection, stress or other medical condition. If you have a high neutrophil count, then it indicates that there is a problem going on in your body.
What Are the Causes of High Neutrophils?
If your neutrophil count is more than 8,000, then your doctor will most likely tell you that you have an abnormally high neutrophil count. This indicates that there is a problem going on in your body, so your doctor will need to figure out what condition is causing the high neutrophils counts.
Your neutrophils are one of your body’s first defenses against a pathogen. When an infection enters your body, it immediately causes inflammation as neutrophils and other immune cells flood the affected area. If the neutrophils do not find any pathogens, they will self-destruct. If they do find harmful bacteria or viruses, more neutrophil cells will be made. This can happen if you have a fungal, bacterial, viral or parasitic infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as a chronic inflammatory disorder. It is especially known for affecting small joints in spots like your hands and feet. When you have rheumatoid arthritis, you can end up developing bone erosion, painful swelling and joint deformity.
One specific type of rheumatoid arthritis is known as gout. This disease is more common in men, although women have an increased chance of developing it after menopause. When someone has gout, they may experience redness, tenderness or pain in their joints. This can make it painful to sleep, exercise or even move.
When you are under some type of stress, your immune system releases neutrophils to fight potential invaders. This added stress can be due to intense exercise, pregnancy, emotional stress or other factors. When you have just had a vigorous fitness session, your neutrophils may increase to a level that is eight times higher. Once they reach your tissues and realize that there are no pathogens, they will die off and provide your muscles with added nutrition.
4. Medication Effects
Certain types of medication can increase your neutrophil levels. Corticosteroids and lithium carbonate can both lead to high neutrophils.
5. Acute Kidney Failure
When you experience acute kidney failure, it means that your kidneys can no longer filter waste matter and toxins out of your blood stream. This can lead to dangerous toxin accumulation in your blood and blood imbalances. When you experience side effects of acute kidney failure, you may have symptoms like fluid retention, confusion, decreased urine output, drowsiness, confusion and fatigue. In addition, acute kidney failure can lead to a high neutrophil count.
6. Myelogenous Leukemia
This type of leukemia is when the bone marrow and blood are both affected by cancer. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue that produces blood cells within your bones. When you have this type of cancer, your myeloid cells are affected. The disease takes its name from the myeloid cells that are responsible for ultimately maturing into blood cells like white blood cells, platelets and red blood cells. Depending on your unique diagnosis, myelogenous leukemia can be chronic or acute. If you have this disease, you may experience common side effects like fatigue, frequent infections, bone pain, pale skin, shortness of breath unusual bleeding, difficulties breathing, lethargy and fever.
7. Rheumatic Fever
Many of people who have strep throat experience their illness, take antibiotics and recover. Unfortunately, strep throat can sometimes turn into rheumatic fever if it has not been treated correctly. This inflammatory disease can affect people of any age, but it is most commonly found among teenagers and young children. Rheumatic fever can cause your neutrophil levels to increase. It can also cause symptoms like fatigue, painful joints, shortness of breath, tenderness, unusual heartbeats, chest pain, fevers and permanent heart damage. This permanent heart damage can be due to damaged heart valves or complete heart failure.
This rare condition can occur to pregnant women. This pregnancy complication affects women who have moderate or severe preeclampsia. Normally, preeclampsia takes place during the second half of the pregnancy. When this condition develops, it can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure, excessive protein in the urine and edema.
One type of thyroid disorder is known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. Also called Hashimoto’s disease, thyroiditis means that the immune system has started to attack the thyroid gland. This ultimately causes hypothyroidism and inflammation. The thyroid gland becomes under-active, and Hashimoto’s disease can cause chronic thyroid damage. Often, the progression of the disease will slow over the years. Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include constipation, a puffy face, sluggishness, dry skin, fatigue, pale skin and increased sensitivity to the cold.
10. Additional Medical Causes of High Neutrophil Counts
Polycythemia Vera: This condition is a blood disorder where your bone marrow produces too many red blood cells. This condition can cause other blood cells like white blood cells and platelets to be overproduced.
Ketoacidosis: This condition occurs when your body produces too many ketones. Ketones are a poisonous substances that are created if the body is not able to break down fat properly. It can also be another cause of high neutrophil counts.
Myeloid Metaplasia: This medical condition involves the bone marrow. If the bone marrow is growing in areas that it is not supposed to normally, then it can end up increasing your neutrophil counts as well as causing other problems.
Hemolytic Anemia: This medical condition means that red blood cells in your body are being destroyed faster than your bone marrow can create new ones. Blood diseases can cause this condition, and you can develop it later in life as well.