High Neutrophils

image001Neutrophils are a key type of white blood cell found in our bodies and play a vital role in fighting infection, which in their mature form are able to attack and destroy bacteria, toxins and foreign substances that can make us sick. Neutrophils counts are usually maintained within a normal range by the body. However, if the level of neutrophils increases, potentially serious problems are taking place, of which treatment may depend on the root cause.

Causes of High Neutrophils

The mature neutrophil makes up 50-70% of the total number of white blood cells found in the blood. When the number of neutrophils increases beyond normal amounts, there might be an indication of diseases as follows.




Neutrophils attack and engulf or eat bacteria. The immune system reacts to infections by releasing more neutrophils to join the battle and protect health. Chronic inflammation triggers neutrophils to call in help from other cells and substances to mitigate the damage and help the body deal with chronic inflammation.

Blood Transfusion

Blood is required at times due to blood loss in surgery, injury, trauma and nutritional deficiencies. Transfusing blood can also result in an elevated neutrophil count.

Medications Effects

The antipsychotic and anti-nausea drug phenothiazine is known to cause neutrophilia. Seizures medications, like Dilantin and mephenytoin, also result in high neutrophil amounts in the blood.


Infectious mononucleosis is caused by a virus and leads to fever, swollen glands and notable fatigue. Mono can result in an elevated neutrophil count.


Hepatitis can be caused by infections, drugs, alcohol and injury. The inflammation and infection will trigger a rise in the neutrophil numbers in the blood stream to deal with the cause.

Kidney Failure

Sudden kidney failure puts tremendous stress on the body resulting in neutrophilia. A multitude of chemical reactions occur and the body responds by dumping neutrophils into the blood stream.


This life threatening condition occurs during pregnancy and results in very high blood pressure, seizures and even death if not treated quickly.

Hemolytic Anemia

Red blood cells are destroyed prematurely and infection is often the cause. In response, the body produces more neutrophils to kill off the infection and also in relation to the inflammation caused by the infection itself.


Blood cancers can produce extremely high white blood cell counts including neutrophil. Other cancers push neutrophils out of the bone marrow as other cell types are abnormally increasing in number. Solid organ cancers, such as liver or pancreas, produce significant inflammation and increase the risk of infection.


This infection occurs in animals as well as humans and results in neutrophilia. Toxoplasmosis can be dangerous to pregnant women and the health of the unborn child.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

This virus is similar to mono and results in elevated neutrophil counts. CMV is common in those with immune deficiency and can complicate organ transplant recovery.

Other Causes

Stress, whether physical, emotional or related to pregnancy, causes an increased number of neutrophils in the blood. Intense physical exercise causes a release of neutrophils into the blood and provides anti-fungal effects and can also serve as nutrition for muscle cells after they die off.

Symptoms of High Neutrophils

Having an elevated neutrophil count in itself does not generally produce symptoms. The underlying mechanism triggering neutrophilia is responsible for any symptoms that a person may experience.

  • Neutrophils rush in to fight of infection. The ensuing battle generates inflammation as a byproduct of the body’s war on the bacteria or virus. In this sense, inflammation and neutrophilia is a normal and expected part of the process. Bleeding leads to hypotension, tachycardia and most probably sepsis.
  • This is often a result of a serious and potentially overwhelming bacterial infection. One theory is that the massive infection triggers a change in the brain’s ability to regulate temperature along with dilation of vessels leading to further heat loss. In the setting of overwhelming infection (Sepsis), neutrophil counts are usually markedly elevated. On occasion, they can be quite low and this can be an ominous sign.
  • Rapid breathing and a sensation of breathlessness is common with severe infections. The inflammation can trigger a fever that then results in a faster respiratory rate. Lung infections and the serious infections elsewhere in the body can also trigger these respiratory problems.

Treatments for High Neutrophils

Treatment of high neutrophils is always directed at the underlying cause or trigger.

  • In the case of infections, antibiotics or antiviral drugs are utilized to resolve the infection.
  • In the case of inflammation, a search for the trigger will provide the treatment. For example, in gouty joint inflammation treatment is directed at reducing inflammation with OTC anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and also reducing the uric acid levels that triggered the gout attack.
  • If cancer is the cause, a specialist (oncologist) will utilize a combination of anti-cancer medications to treat the underlying malignancy.
  • Expeditiously delivering the baby and managing high blood pressure it the treatment for eclampsia during pregnancy.
  • Other medications such as corticosteroids and immune modulating drugs are beneficial in treating neutrophilia.

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