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Leukocytosis

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KEY POINTS

  • Leukocytosis means that there is more than the normal number of leukocytes in your child’s blood. White blood cells (WBCs) are called leukocytes.
  • A high WBC count may return to normal without treatment if it is caused by a mild illness. Otherwise treatment depends on what was causing the WBC count to be higher than normal.
  • A high WBC count is just one test result and part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history, physical exam, and current health. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about what the test results mean and ask any questions you have.

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What is leukocytosis?

Leukocytosis means that there is more than the normal number of leukocytes in the blood. White blood cells (WBCs) are called leukocytes. WBCs are an important part of the body’s immune system. The immune system is part of the body’s defense against infection.

WBC counts are part of a complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is a blood test that measures the numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It is a common and useful blood test.

What is the cause?

Your child’s WBC count may be higher than normal if your child:

  • Has an infection
  • Has inflammation, which is swelling and irritation in the body caused by an infection or disease
  • Has allergies
  • Takes certain medicines
  • Has a certain type of cancer
  • Had a major injury or surgery
  • Is pregnant
  • Smokes
  • Has had his or her spleen removed

Your child’s normal WBC count may vary based on your child’s age, gender, and ethnic background.

What are the symptoms?

  • A high WBC count itself does not cause symptoms. It may be high because your child is sick and has symptoms from an injury or illness, so you should take your child to a healthcare provider.

How is it diagnosed?

A high WBC count is found as part of the results of a blood test. Your child’s healthcare provider may do this blood test either as part a routine checkup or when your child is sick or injured. Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your child may need other tests.

How is it treated?

A high WBC count may return to normal levels without treatment if it is caused by a mild illness. Otherwise treatment depends on what is causing the WBC count to be higher than normal.

  • If a high WBC count is caused by a medical problem, treating the medical problem may improve your child’s WBC count.
  • If a high WBC count is caused by medicines, your child’s healthcare provider may change the medicine or the dose.

How can I take care of my child?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider. Ask your child’s provider:

  • How and when you will get your child’s test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-01-03
Last reviewed: 2019-01-03
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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