Monocytes are white blood cells that are common to the blood of all vertebrates and they help the immune system to function properly. There are a number of reasons for a high monocyte count, which can also be called monocytosis. Some of the reasons can include stress, viral fevers, inflammation and organ necrosis. Compromised blood supply and injuries are both potential reasons for necrosis of organ cells. Infection can be another cause for a high monocyte count.
A physician may order a monocyte blood count test to check for raised levels of monocytes. There are a number of reasons for this test, from a simple health check up to people suffering from heart attacks and leukemia. Complications with the blood and cancer are two other reasons that this test may be performed. Blood is typically drawn from a vein in the arm and the results are usually available a few days later. The test may be timed during a period of fasting so that food or liquid does not interfere with the results.
Red cells are typically more numerous in the blood than white cells but the white cells may increase when there is an infection present in the body. This occurs because the white cells travel to the area of infection to eradicate it. The cells achieve this by producing antibodies that “eat” the bacteria that is damaging the body, and even though large numbers of the white cells may be killed off, some of them usually remain to combat the infection if it returns.
There are a number of different types of white blood cells. These can include lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils and basophils. A high monocyte count tends to point towards the presence of a bacterial infection, whereas a raised neutrophil level can also be an indication of infection, as well as arthritis and physical stress after invasive procedures such as heart surgery. People with lower white cell counts tend to have compromised immune systems and may be more susceptible to catching colds.
A high monocyte count in itself does not fully inform a physician of the actual underlying problem. There are a number of diseases that may cause this condition to occur. Some of these can include mononucleosis, malaria and tuberculosis. A physician will use the information gathered from the blood count as a tool in conjunction with a physical examination and the patient’s medical history to ascertain the reason for raised levels of monocytes.