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What is Leukocytosis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

What is Leukocytosis?

Leukocytosis is a pathological condition in which the body has excessive white blood cells or WBCs. White blood cells are used to fight off infections or foreign bodies like bacteria or viruses that may invade the body and cause harm to the body. The white blood cells fight these potential invaders and protect the bodies.

Leukocytosis can be caused due to numerous causes like infections, or some type of tissue damage. It can also be caused due to an asthma attack or allergies. Stress also plays a factor in development of Leukocytosis. An individual with Leukocytosis will feel tired and weak. The individual will find it hard to work and may even have problems with being lightheaded and dizzy throughout the day. The individual may also feel tingling in the arms. Mild cases of Leukocytosis do not require any treatment and may resolve on its own but severe cases of Leukocytosis may require administration of IV fluids and medications.

What is Leukocytosis?

What are the Causes of Leukocytosis?

Certain infections or inflammation in the body or some form of tissue damage may result in the development of Leukocytosis. Immune reactions like an allergy or an asthma attack can also result in Leukocytosis. Individuals with bone marrow disorders like thrombocytopenia also can have Leukocytosis. Certain classes of medications which are used to treat inflammatory disorders, mental health disorders and cancer can also cause Leukocytosis. Stress is a very important factor in development of Leukocytosis. Stress can be both physical and emotional. Hence it is important to keep the stress levels under control.

What are the Symptoms of Leukocytosis?

Leukocytosis at times may not cause any symptoms at all. If the patient experiences any symptoms it will most probably be due to the underlying cause of Leukocytosis. These symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Feeling weak, tired, and sick to such an extent that it may be a challenge to do even normal activities of daily living
  • Feelings of dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tingling in the upper and lower extremities
  • Having problems with breathing
  • Problems with thinking clearly
  • Vision disturbances
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Poor appetite.

How is Leukocytosis Diagnosed?

In order to confirm the diagnosis of Leukocytosis the treating physician will first take a detailed history of the patient including whether the patient has been on any medications either currently or in the remote past. The physician will also inquire as to whether the patient has any allergies or not. The physician will then order blood tests which will confirmatively show increased levels of white blood cells. Blood tests will also help determine the cause of Leukocytosis. Once Leukocytosis is suspected, then the patient may undergo a bone marrow test to find out the cause of the condition.

How is Leukocytosis Treated?

Mild cases of Leukocytosis do not require treatment and the levels of white blood cells may return back to normal without any intervention required. For treating Leukocytosis, the patient may be administered intravenous fluids for fluid and electrolyte balance. If infection or inflammation is the cause of Leukocytosis then the patient may be given medications to treat that condition. Sometimes a procedure known as Leukapheresis is done. This is a procedure in which blood is taken from the body and the WBCs are removed and then the blood without the WBCs is returned back to the body. Sometimes, this blood without the WBCs may also be sent to the laboratory for analysis.

When Should a Healthcare Provider be Contacted Due to Leukocytosis?

A patient with Leukocytosis should immediately consult the treating physician or go to the nearest emergency room if the following occur:

  • High grade fever
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Persistent nausea
  • Extreme weakness and lethargy because of Leukocytosis.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Leukocytosis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/leukocytosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374347
  2. British Journal of Haematology. (2017). Diagnostic approach to the patient with leukocytosis. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjh.14793
  3. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America. (2019). Leukocytosis: Beyond Neutrophils and Lymphocytes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6386529/
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 24, 2023

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