Neutrophilia is an abnormal number of neutrophilic granulocytes (neutrophils) in the blood. Neutrophilia is one of several possible forms of leukocytosis, which is commonly used to describe an increase in the number of white blood cells, which include neutrophils. There are many endogenous and exogenous factors, including immune responses, that cause transient or permanent neutrophilic excess.
What is neutrophilia?
The abbreviation neutrophil is often used for neutrophilic granulocytes, which are part of the innate immune system. They represent a specific form of white blood cells (leukocytes) and make up the largest proportion of leukocytes overall. A temporary or permanent increase in the number of neutrophils in the blood above normal is called neutrophilia. See definitionexplorer for HSV Definitions.
Neutrophilia is therefore a special form of leukocytosis, which generally refers to an increase in the number of leukocytes. The neutrophilic granulocytes belong to the non-specific innate immune system. They are permanently “on patrol” in the blood and in an inactive form also distributed as “posts” in the tissue. A rapid and short-lived increase in their number in the blood may be an immune response or indicate disease in the neutrophils themselves.
The majority of neutrophils are so-called segmented, differentiated neutrophils, of which normally 3,000 to 5,800 circulate in the blood per microliter. Rod-nuclear neutrophilic granulocytes, which are not yet fully differentiated, normally appear with a number of about 150 to 400 per microliter of blood.
Neutrophilia can be caused by many endogenous and exogenous factors and triggers. In most cases of a transient increase in neutrophilic granulocytes, only endogenous causes such as the release of stress hormones – especially adrenaline – play the most important role.
In the event of external circumstances that cause acute stress with a sudden increase in adrenaline levels, the body is prepared for brief muscular and mental peak performance for flight or attack. This also includes taking precautions, in the event of injuries, to lose as little blood as possible by constricting the peripheral blood vessels and being able to react more quickly to germs that use possible external injuries as a portal of entry.
As a precautionary measure, the immune system causes a transient neutrophilia, which subsides after about an hour. The immune system is also the trigger of neutrophilia in acute inflammation, severe injury, surgery and infection, as well as an increase in the level of glucocorticoids. The drastic increase in the number of neutrophilic granulocytes is usually accompanied by a so-called left shift.
More and more immature neutrophils are released from the bone marrow into the bloodstream. A similar process as a reaction of the immune system occurs in chronic inflammation and in some types of neoplasia (cancer). A particularly severe form of neutrophilia occurs in chronic granulocytic leukemia, such as myeloid leukemia, in which genetic factors in the course of the disease – if left untreated – result in unchecked proliferation of leukocyte precursor cells.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
An increase in neutrophilic granulocytes above the normal level is usually completely symptom-free. At best, symptoms occur in connection with the factors that trigger neutrophilia. For example, inflammation or injury can cause pain that cannot be attributed to the neutrophilia that then develops.
Complaints and signs that can be associated with the multitude of other causes are neither caused nor increased by the pathologically increased number of neutrophils.
Diagnosis & course of disease
Since neutrophilia is completely symptom-free, it is usually discovered more or less by chance during laboratory blood tests. The routine determination of the blood values in the laboratory allows a differentiation between the different leukocytes. A distinction is made between neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils, which take on different tasks within the immune system.
The course of neutrophilia depends very much on the course of the causative factors. It can be self-regulating, as in the case of a stressful situation, or it can regress on its own after a local or systemic infection has been overcome, or it can take a serious course in the case of myeloid leukemia – if left untreated.
In most cases, there are no special complaints and complications with neutrophilia. However, in some cases, neutrophilia can cause inflammation and infection more quickly. The symptoms are very different, so that in most cases neutrophilia is diagnosed relatively late. However, neutrophilia does not have any negative health effects on the affected person’s body.
In many cases, the symptoms disappear completely once the infection or inflammation is over. A special treatment is not necessary. However, neutrophilia can also occur due to leukemia and have a negative impact on quality of life. In this case, it is possible to treat the neutrophilia with the help of drugs.
However, there are no complications. The life expectancy of the patient is also not affected by the neutrophilia. This disease cannot usually be prevented. However, hygiene measures must be observed, especially after surgical interventions, in order to avoid infections and inflammation.
When should you go to the doctor?
A rapid increase in the number of leukocytes in the blood that lasts for a short time usually indicates an immune reaction in the body or a release of the stress hormone adrenaline, which initially does not require medical treatment, as the value levels off on its own.
However, if neither an injury, an acute inflammation nor an infection are the triggers for an increase in the increase in leucocytes, a neutrophilia cannot be ruled out. Since neutrophilia itself does not show any symptoms, it is usually only detected in the blood count due to other symptoms.
A visit to the doctor should therefore always be advisable if the patient feels unwell, tired or listless over a longer period of time without any recognizable signs of illness. Since in most cases major injuries or infections drive those affected to the doctor, the disease is usually diagnosed by taking a blood sample as a precaution. In rare cases, neutrophilia also occurs in connection with leukemia. Here, the leukocytes themselves are responsible as the primary factor for the disease based on genetic bone marrow changes, which requires an immediate start of treatment.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of neutrophilia always depends on the treatment of the underlying primary disease or in the elimination of possible exogenous factors. These include, for example, the administration of certain medications or a change in lifestyle, for example if smoking is a main trigger of neutrophilia.
As a rule, after successful therapy of the underlying disease, the number of neutrophils and other leukocytes returns to the normal range. This means that by eliminating the triggering factors, it is left to the immune system to restore normal conditions. A treatment that directly targets neutrophil reduction without considering the causative factors does not exist, nor would it make sense.
Only in the case of acute myeloid leukemia is the situation different. In the disease, which is caused by genetic changes in the bone marrow, the primary disease is the extraordinary proliferation of leukocytes themselves. Possible forms of therapy are therefore aimed directly at reducing uncontrolled proliferation.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of neutrophilia is often linked to the underlying cause of the disease. If external circumstances are responsible for the health impairments, the further course of the disease is largely linked to the willingness of the person concerned to change. Constant stress and states of strong emotional stress lead to physical irregularities.
Even without medical treatment, the person affected should learn to deal with life developments and everyday challenges in a more relaxed manner. Numerous self-regulation techniques can already help to reduce stress and alleviate symptoms.
In many cases, it is advisable to work with a psychotherapist, as the success of the treatment is significantly improved here. Behavioral patterns and cognitive techniques are learned to enable better handling of stressful situations. In the case of a physical irregularity, drug treatment is often initiated. In these cases, the possibilities of self-help are not sufficient to achieve a lasting improvement. Long-term therapy is needed to regulate the organism.
In principle, the prognosis improves if the lifestyle of the person affected is optimized. It has been shown that avoiding harmful substances such as nicotine or alcohol helps to alleviate the symptoms. In addition, the consumption of medication should only take place in consultation with the doctor treating you. Otherwise, side effects may occur that lead to an increase in symptoms.
Due to the many possible causes of neutrophilia, direct preventive measures that would prevent the onset of the disease are hardly conceivable. Indirect measures that strengthen the immune system basically lead to the immune system being able to overcome most of the causative factors such as infections, operations and injuries itself and an interim neutrophilia regressing by itself.
In the case of neutrophilia, the measures and the possibilities for aftercare are very limited in most cases, so that the person affected with this disease is dependent on immediate medical treatment in any case. The earlier the disease is recognized and treated, the better the further course is, so that the affected person should consult a doctor as soon as the first symptoms and signs of the disease appear.
Self-healing is usually not possible, so a doctor should be consulted at the first sign of the disease. Most patients with neutrophilia are usually dependent on taking various medications. It is always important to ensure that it is taken regularly and that the dosage is correct in order to alleviate the symptoms properly and permanently.
If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, consult a doctor first. During treatment, regular check-ups and examinations by a doctor are usually very important in order to determine further damage to the internal organs. However, the further course of the neutrophilia is strongly dependent on the time of diagnosis and also on the severity of the disease, so that a general prediction is not possible.
You can do that yourself
Because of the variety of possible causes of neutrophilia, self-help approaches are broad and less specific. In addition to specialist treatment of the underlying disease, it is of central importance to support the body in the healing process. Everything that helps to strengthen the immune system also helps to alleviate inflammatory processes in the body.
The immune system can be strengthened in many ways: A balanced diet that is adapted to the respective age, energy requirements and state of health forms the basis of a balanced lifestyle. Since the body is weakened by the consumption of harmful substances such as nicotine and alcohol, it is important to reduce them or avoid them altogether. In addition, stress forms a negative influencing factor on the immune system. If stress cannot be avoided, it is advisable to integrate a balance of exercise and relaxation into everyday life. Depending on the severity of the clinical picture, there are individual options for implementation in terms of duration and intensity.
Although the clinical picture of neutrophilia is so heterogeneous in appearance, there are indirect ways to support the healing process and alleviate symptoms in everyday life.