Bandemia

Medically reviewed by Jill Seladi-Schulman, PhD on November 16, 2017Written by Becky Young

Overview

“Bandemia” is the term used to describe too many white blood cells being released by bone marrow into the bloodstream. When this occurs, it’s usually an indication that an infection or some inflammation is present.

Measurement of bandemia can help your doctor decide how to approach certain illnesses.

Understanding band cell count

Band cells are an immature form of neutrophils, which are the most commonly produced white blood cell. They are essential for fighting disease. That’s why your body produces them in excess during an infection.

A normal is 10 percent or less. A high band count could provide an early suggestion that a serious infection is present. People who have very low band cell counts could be at increased risk of infections developing.

Causes of bandemia

Conditions that can affect the production of band cells include:

Symptoms of bandemia

If you display any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical advice. Your doctor may wish to check your band cell count to determine what’s causing your symptoms.

Conditions associated with bandemia

Bandemia can result from any kind of infection or inflammation in the body, since the over production of white blood cells is the body’s way of fighting infection. There are two severe conditions that are often associated with bandemia.

Leukemia

Leukemia is the name for a group of cancers of the blood cells. It shares many of the symptoms of bandemia, but people with leukemia may also notice that they have swollen lymph nodes, pain in their bones or joints, or discomfort and swelling in their abdomen.

Leukemia is grouped according to how aggressive the cancer is and the type of cells that are affected. Most people with leukemia are treated with chemotherapy.

Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases develop when the body’s immune system isn’t working as it should. The immune system is a complicated network of cells and organs that defends the body against foreign substances. In autoimmune diseases, the body begins to attack its own tissues.

Some common autoimmune diseases are multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes.

Treatment options

Treatment for bandemia will depend on the underlying cause. Your doctors may want to monitor your band cell count as a way of determining how well treatment is working.

Leukemia and other cancers are often treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Autoimmune diseases are incurable, but medications can be used to reduce inflammation and control the overactive immune response.

Some of the symptoms of bandemia such as pain, swelling, and fatigue can also be relieved using medication.

Diagnosing bandemia

In order to find out your band cell count, your doctor will need to collect a blood sample from you. They may advise you to stop taking certain medications for a few days before they collect this sample, as some medications can affect your band cell count.

Your doctor will usually take blood using a needle from a vein either in your hand or in the crease in your arm. They will send the sample to a laboratory for analysis once it’s been collected. Once your doctor receives results back from the lab, they will contact you to discuss those results.

Outlook

The outlook for people with bandemia is extremely variable. It really depends on the condition that is causing the overproduction of the white blood cells. Bandemia can be the result of any number of infections or simply of some inflammation within the body. It can also be an indicator of more serious conditions such as leukemia or autoimmune diseases.

If you experience any of the symptoms of bandemia, your doctor may want to take a blood test to determine what your band cell count is. If your band cell count is greater than 10 percent, it’s a good indicator that an infection is present. Your doctor will recommend further diagnostic tests to determine the root cause of your bandemia.

Once the cause is determined, prompt treatment is a major factor ensuring a good outcome. Many people with even the most serious causes of bandemia live for a long time with a good quality of life.

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