Medical Surgical Labs WBC White Blood Count #3

Question

A client has a white blood cell count of 11,000 cells/mcL. Which could be a potential cause? Select all that apply.

Answers

  1. The client has an infection.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because a white count higher than 10,000 cells/mcL means there is an infection. The body makes white blood cells when there is an infection to defend the immune system and fight the illness. This causes the count to increase and called leukocytosis.

  2. The client is anemic.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because anemia is a result of a low red blood cell count. However, aplastic anemia can cause low white blood cells because stem cells in bone marrow produce blood cells.

  3. The client takes steroids.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because a white count higher than 10,000 cells/mcL can be caused by steroid use. Steroids suppress the immune system. The white blood cells counteract this by increasing in numbers to protect the immune system.

  4. The client is undergoing chemotherapy.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because for the client undergoing chemotherapy, the white count will be low and called leukopenia.

  5. The client is having an allergic reaction.
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because when a client is having an allergic reaction, the body becomes inflamed. Short-term inflammation causes an increase in the white blood cell count. This is because the white blood cells increase in number to decrease the inflammation.

Overview

White blood cells are the cells in our body that protect our immune system against illness and disease. A low white cell count indicates immune suppression, whereas a high white count indicates an infection/inflammation or steroid use.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

White blood cells are the cells in our body that protect our immune system against illness and disease. A low white cell count indicates immune suppression, whereas a high white count indicates an infection/inflammation or steroid use. The body makes white blood cells when there is an infection to defend the immune system and fight the illness. This causes the count to increase. This is called leukocytosis. Steroids suppress the immune system. The white blood cells counteract this by increasing in numbers to protect the immune system. When a client is having an allergic reaction, the body becomes inflamed. Inflammation causes an increase in the white blood cell count.

Test Taking Tip

Understand the causes of leukocytosis and leukopenia.

Video Rationale