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Monocytes and the other types of white blood cells are important in your immune response. High monocyte levels may occur from various issues, including spleen removal, tuberculosis and leukaemia.

However, your doctor will interpret your monocyte result while considering other tests and certain factors. Only an elevated monocyte level isn’t sufficient for a diagnosis.

What are monocytes?

Your blood contains white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Only about one per cent of your blood consists of white blood cells. Five white blood cell types are available, each serving a specific purpose.

The bone marrow makes monocytes and then releases them into the bloodstream. When the monocytes get to tissues in the body, they become macrophages. In tissues, they isolate and clear germs, including other harmful microorganisms. Macrophages also help in immune response and get rid of dead cells.

The functions of the other white blood cells include:

Some white blood cells live for only 1 – 3 days, so the bone marrow constantly produces them.

What is a high monocyte count?

White blood cells have a delicate balance. When one type of white blood cell is low, another may be high. Checking only the monocyte level may not give the complete picture of your health, so each white blood cell is given as a percentage of the overall WBC, also called leukocyte count.

Monocytes make up a small percentage of white blood cells. The monocyte test is known as monocyte (absolute) or absolute monocytes.

The normal percentage range of white blood cells is:

An absolute monocyte count greater than 10% or 800 per mm3 is high, meaning your body is responding to something. This condition is referred to as monocytosis.

Symptoms of high monocyte levels

A high monocyte level may not cause symptoms, and when symptoms occur, they are from the underlying cause. The general symptoms include;

What elevates the monocyte level to a high level?

Your overall white blood count is likely to be elevated in response to the following:

In most cases, the balance between the different white blood cells can help in a diagnosis. For example, a study in 2015 found that a high monocyte and low lymphocyte ratio can help identify ulcerative colitis activity.

What are the risk factors for high monocyte levels?

The following are some conditions that cause elevated monocyte levels.

A high monocyte count often accompanies chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia, a type of cancer that starts in the cells that produce blood in the bone marrow.

A study suggested that elevated monocyte counts may be related to increased cardiovascular risk, and detecting increased monocytes on time can help assess heart health management, but large-scale research is necessary to confirm this.

How to test for monocytes

You will need a blood differential test to check the number of monocyte in your blood. The test determines the level of other white blood cells in the blood and gives information on the immature or atypical white blood cells.

The procedure for a differential blood test is the same as other blood tests. The healthcare professional will draw your blood sample from a vein in your arm. This test doesn’t require fasting or any special preparation.

After collecting your blood sample, the pathologist will apply a special dye to count the different white blood cells in your blood sample. Your doctor may order this test with a complete blood count to aid the diagnosis of conditions or infections such as leukaemia and anaemia.

Treatment for high monocyte levels

The cause of elevated monocyte levels will determine the treatment. Your doctor may order further tests to determine the underlying cause of the high monocyte level. Treatment usually includes:

If the symptoms are from a parasitic disease, other lab tests may be necessary to know the exact cause of the disease before prescribing the right medication.

The treatment for blood cancers may include:

What can I do to lower monocyte levels?

It is important to keep your white blood cells within the healthy range. If your white blood cells count is extremely low, you are at risk of infections and illnesses, while elevated levels indicate a response to something.

Exercising regularly is vital to maintaining your health and white blood cell counts. Some evidence suggests that exercise can help boost monocyte function, especially as you age.

An inflammatory diet is vital since monocytes respond to inflammation. Some anti-inflammatory foods include:

Some foods can increase inflammation and should be limited. They include

A good example of an anti-inflammatory diet is the Mediterranean diet. This diet includes nuts, fish, olive oil, whole grains, fruits, and many fresh vegetables.

If you think you have high monocyte levels, visit our Clinic to have our healthcare professionals carry out a monocyte test. Call us today on 02071830244 to schedule an appointment for your differential blood test.