Monocytes are a type of white blood cell found in the blood. The role of monocytes is primarily to phagocytose harmful organisms such as bacteria and to regulate inflammatory processes in the body. When the number of monocytes exceeds the normal level, it is called monocytosis. Monocytosis can have several causes, some of which are:
Ordinary cases: monocytosis most often develops as a result of chronic stress, inflammatory diseases or infections. Many of us encounter stressful situations in our daily lives which, if they become persistent, can affect our immune system. In addition, inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis or intestinal diseases, can affect a wider group of the population.
Chronic inflammatory diseases. These diseases are moderately common and chronic inflammation can cause an increase in monocyte levels.
Chronic infections: e.g. tuberculosis or parasitic infections. These infections are nowadays less common in developed countries but may occur in endemic areas.
Autoimmune diseases: such as systemic lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. The prevalence of these diseases is variable, but affected individuals often experience high monocyte counts.
Myeloproliferative disorders: Polycythaemia vera or myelofibrosis. These are relatively rare but cause severe pathologies.
Chronic stress: prolonged chronic stress can affect immune function. In many people, chronic stress triggers high monocyte counts, as stress is now a part of many people’s lives.
Medications. However, drug-related monocytosis is less common.
Splenectomy: After removal of the spleen, the number of monocytes in the blood may increase. This condition is usually temporary and the spleen is removed for other reasons in most cases.
In summary, if someone has a high monocyte count, a thorough medical examination is needed. A high monocyte count can be due to a variety of causes, so an accurate diagnosis is important. Treatment and prognosis depend on the underlying disease. If you have any concerns about your monocyte levels, be sure to consult a doctor.