Although infections are the most common cause of high blood monocytes, it can also occur in a carcinogenic or inflammatory process.

Our blood contains many more cell types and substances than are typically known, such as red blood cells. A good example is monocytes. They are cells that circulate in our blood, that come from the immune system and that can be high in an analysis.

Monocytes are made in the bone marrow and are transported with the blood to different tissues. Once they have reached the tissues, they become macrophages and perform their defense function. They are responsible for eliminating certain waste products and dangerous elements for our body.

In addition, these cells also act in the inflammation process. Monocytes represent between 4 and 8% of the total cells in our blood. However, its concentration varies depending on age, infections or if there is an active inflammatory process.

In this article we explain why monocytes may be high in blood and what is the relevance of this fact. It is an essential factor that must be taken into account when carrying out a blood test or knowing the immune status of a person.

Why are blood monocytes elevated?

As we have already mentioned, monocytes are cells that are part of our immune system. They are protagonists in inflammatory and infectious processes. They are said to be elevated when their concentration exceeds 8% of blood cells.

The truth is that the fact that monocytes are elevated does not have to cause symptoms.  However, what will appear are the symptoms and signs of the situation that is causing this increase. In summary we can say that the most frequent causes are:

  • Infections, such as a person with malaria. The truth is that infections are the most common cause, even if they are temporary infections.
  • Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The most common is rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Blood disorders.
  • Cancer processes such as leukemias and lymphomas.

High monocytes from an infection.

It is the most common cause. Monocytes are elevated both in a simple infection such as a mere cold, as well as in a chronic infection. For example, in the case of tuberculosis. That is why the fact that they appear high in an analysis is very unspecific.

Inflammatory diseases.

These cells can also be an indicator that there is an inflammatory process in some part of our bodyThis is the case of rheumatoid arthritis. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints and causes pain and loss of mobility.

Blood neoplasms.

Blood cells can also undergo neoplastic processes. This means that different types of cells can grow out of control and increase in concentration. It can be a cause of the monocytes appearing elevated.

How are high blood monocytes detected?

A complete blood test usually indicates the proportions of all the cells in the blood. It is a simple and effective method to detect this situation. However, as we have already indicated, some data are nonspecific and should be studied further.

Depending on the number of monocytes there are, it is more likely that it is one process or another. For example, if the levels are slightly elevated, it is most often a mild infection. On the other hand, if they are excessively high levels, they can be indicative of leukemia.

The doctor will be in charge of analyzing the concentration of monocytes. As necessary, he will carry out the necessary examinations to find the infection or the inflammatory process, if they exist.

For this reason, it is very important to know if there are other symptoms that accompany this fact. There is no treatment for high blood monocytes, rather treatment is based on fixing the underlying cause.

Even so, it should also be noted that exercise can be a way to improve monocyte numbers. It helps regulate the functioning of our immune system and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory measure.

To conclude, the important thing is to emphasize that high monocytes are a very non specific sign. In order to make a diagnosis it is essential to see a doctor. In addition, most of the time it is only a consequence of a mild and temporary infection.