White Blood Cell Count: When and Why Is It High?

A high white blood cell count can indicate infection or illness. But what is considered high, what causes it, and what can be done? Find all your answers here.

Deseré Davis
By Deseré Davis
Kirsty Mac Dougall
Edited by Kirsty Macdougall

Published August 9, 2022.

White blood cells form part of your body's immune system and help to fight infections, illnesses, and diseases. A high white blood cell count, also known as leukocytosis, is important to know as it can indicate that something is amiss in your body.

Typically, adults should have a white blood cell (WBC) count of between 4,500 and 11,000 WBCs per microliter of blood.

Anything higher than 11,000 WBCs per microliter of blood is considered too high and is a sign that something's wrong. White blood counts of 50,000 to 100,000 can indicate that you have a solid tumor, severe infection, or even organ rejection.

What Causes a High White Blood Cell Count?

A high white blood cell count occurs when the immune system is triggered to defend the body against immune system disorders, inflammation, viruses, injury, and infections.

There could also be other reasons, such as allergies, obesity, smoking, burns, excessive emotional or physical stress, thyroid problems, and cavities. Tuberculosis and whooping cough can also contribute to a high WBC count.

Less common causes include lymphoma, bone marrow disorders, and leukemia.

How to Lower Your Elevated White Blood Cell Count

To lower your high white blood cell count, you can take hydroxyurea, which is a capsule taken orally. It can help decrease an elevated WBC count, but it requires a doctor's prescription.

You can also eat immune-boosting foods and add vitamin C to your daily diet to lower your white blood cell count. For immune support, consider supplementing your diet with berries, pineapples, papayas, guavas, and elderberry syrup.

High White Blood Cell Count: Management Is Key

Maintaining your white blood cell count is easier when you live a healthy lifestyle and follow a balanced diet. You can also opt for immune-boosting supplements to prevent infections and illness. These strategies can usually reduce the likelihood that you'll need to take prescription drugs.