What does a High Neutrophil Count mean?

Maybe your doctor once mentioned that you have a high neutrophil count. Or you took a look at your lab results and it was indicated that you have a high neutrophil count. Perhaps you just heard of the statement somewhere. Whichever is the case, you must have wondered, "What does a high neutrophil count mean?" Well, there is no need to beat yourself up about it anymore; this excerpt will help you understand what that statement means, its implications and solutions.

Before embarking on what does a high neutrophil count mean; it is important to understand exactly what neutrophils are. They are a type of white blood cells found in the human blood and are very important in keeping a person immune and safe from infections. They actually make up about 50-75% of all white blood cells in the human body. Normally, they are found circulating in blood but when infection occurs in the body (especially if caused by bacteria), they migrate via chemotaxis to the affected and inflamed areas by penetrating through the blood vessels' walls and adjacent tissue. They act to ease the inflammation and are the main constituents of pus giving it the yellow color.

Under normal circumstances, the number of neutrophils in blood should range between 2.5 and 7.5 X 109 per liter. Sometimes however, this number becomes too low or too high and is a cause for concern healthwise. When the number exceeds beyond the upper limit, this is when a high neutrophil count is reported. But just what does a high neutrophil count mean?

Neutrophils are manufactured by the bone marrow in the human body where some are stored for replenishing. When an infection occurs in the human body, the neutrophil reservoirs in the bone marrow are called upon to release more cells into the blood stream. Once in the blood stream, a trigger from the affected area causes the neutrophils to migrate to the area where they engulf the pathogen by phagocytosis. Having many neutrophils in the blood is therefore indicative of an underlying problem that causes an immune response (release of neutrophils) to occur. The body releases as many as possible to the affected area in attempt to curb the problem leading to a high count as observed through various laboratory techniques.

What are some of the triggers that can cause neutrophil levels to elevate? The most obvious and common cause is an acute bacterial infection which calls for immediate action causing an influx of these cells into the blood from the bone marrow. Physical stress due to strenuous exercising or pregnancy can also result in high neutrophil blood counts. On reaching the tissues, these neutrophils die and release the glucose they carry in them providing energy in the affected areas. Chronic inflammation stimulates the release of neutrophils in attempt to deal with the inflammation and even further release of immune cells is noted during such infections. Some conditions associated with high neutrophil counts include cancer, hemolytic anemia, kidney failure, arthritis, myeloid metaplasia, polycythemia vera and others. Some medications tend to cause increased levels of circulating neutrophils too.

So, should having a high neutrophil count worry you? It is indicative that your body has excellent immunity and is effective in protecting you. The high levels will decrease with a simple bout of drugs and as the infection gets cleared up too.