What Does a Slightly Elevated WBC Count Signify?

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A slightly elevated WBC or white blood cell count in the blood can signify an infection, inflammation, leukemia, anemia, tissue damage or stress, according to About.com. White blood cells are blood components that help the body fight off infectious agents. They play a significant role in the body’s immune response by identifying, killing and removing damaged or cancerous cells, pathogens and foreign bodies.

According to About.com, when an infection is present in the body, the bone marrow produces more white blood cells in order to fight off the bacteria or virus causing the infection.

As the Mayo Clinic points out, the level of white blood cells in the blood is determined by a basic blood test called a complete blood count. This test measures the components of the blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit and platelets. An abnormal increase or decrease in cell counts may indicate an underlying condition that requires further medical evaluation. Doctors may order a complete blood count when a patient suffers from a blood disorder, is taking medication that affects blood cell counts or is experiencing bleeding, fatigue, fever, inflammation or weakness.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the normal white blood cell count for adult males is between 5,000 to 10,000 cells per microliter of blood. Adult females have a normal range of 4,500 to 11,000 cells per microliter of blood. Children, on the other hand, have a normal range of 5,000 to 10,000 white blood cells per microliter of blood.