Your Guide to Bandemia and Blood Cells

Medically Reviewed By Julie Scott, DNP, ANP-BC, AOCNP
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Bandemia happens when your body produces too many white blood cells. It can signal a serious infection or an inflammatory condition.

Specific conditions associated with bandemia include leukemia, adenovirus infection, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to 2015 research.

Treatments for bandemia depend on the underlying cause. Treatment methods include steroids, immunosuppressants, and radiation therapy.

This article talks about bandemia, including its symptoms, causes, and treatments. It also explains what a band cell count is.

What does ‘bandemia’ mean?

a person with bandemia is sitting in a chair
juanma hache/Getty Images

The term “bandemia” refers to severely elevated levels of white blood cells in the bloodstream. It is a common effect of infections and inflammatory disorders, according to a small 2020 study in children.

Clinicians often check for bandemia when testing for other health conditions, according to 2022 research. Specifically, they assess your band cell count.

Your band cell count is the number of band cells that you have in your body. Band cells are developing neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.

Your band cell count can fall into a low, typical, or high range. A typical band cell count is 10% or less.

If you have a high band cell count, you may have an infection or an inflammation. On the other hand, if you have a low band cell count, you may have a higher risk of infection.

Learn about more high levels of white blood cells.

What can cause bandemia?

White blood cells are a key part of your body’s immune system. They search for injuries, diseases, and other concerns in your blood and lymph tissue. Once they spot a concern, they summon other white blood cells and take action.

Types of white blood cells include:

  • granulocytes, including: 
    • neutrophils, which include band cells 
    • eosinophils
    • basophils
  • monocytes
  • lymphocytes, including: 
    • T cells
    • B cells

If you develop a serious health condition, your body may increase the production of white blood cells in an attempt to boost your immunity. This can lead to bandemia.

What are the symptoms of bandemia?

A person with bandemia may experience:

If you have leukemia, a condition related to bandemia, you may also experience:

If you have an autoimmune disease, you can experience: 

  • joint pain and swelling
  • abdominal pain
  • swollen glands

Contact your clinician promptly if you have these symptoms.

What conditions are associated with bandemia?

Bandemia may indicate any type of infection or inflammatory disorder, 2020 research notes. One common cause is bacterial infections.

Other causes can include:

Crohn’s disease 

This is an autoimmune disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes the digestive tract to become irritated and inflamed. It can cause diarrhea, bloody stools, weight loss, and other serious symptoms.

Clinicians do not fully understand the cause of the condition yet, per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Treatments include immunosuppressants and steroids.

Learn more about medications for Crohn’s disease.

Ulcerative colitis 

This is also an IBD with unclear origins, according to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS).

It causes irritation, inflammation, and ulcers in the lining of your large intestine and rectum. Specific symptoms include recurring diarrhea, blood- or mucus-filled stools, and abdominal pain

Your clinician may prescribe corticosteroids or immunosuppressants if you have this condition.

Learn more about the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This is an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the tissue lining of your joints. It causes severe pain, stiffness, weight loss, and swelling. 

Per the NHS, risk factors include smoking, being female, and having a family history of the condition.

Doctors often treat the condition with steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Read our full guide to rheumatoid arthritis.

Adenovirus infection

Adenoviruses are a class of viruses that cause several types of infections, including upper respiratory infections. These viruses affect both adults and children.

Common symptoms include the common cold, a fever, and a sore throat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no specific treatment for adenoviruses. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications and fever reducers may help manage symptoms.

Learn about viral conjunctivitis, which adenovirus commonly causes.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection

RSV refers to respiratory viruses that cause cold-like symptoms and lung infection. Nearly every child will develop this condition before they turn 2 years old, according to the American Lung Association.

Initial symptoms can include fever, wheezing, reduced appetite, and sneezing.

A doctor may prescribe an OTC medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce the fever.

The following factors can also contribute to bandemia:

  • Other cancers: Cancers that affect other areas of the body may also cause bandemia. They include lymphomas and melanomas.
  • Cancer treatments: Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can damage the bone marrow cells, according to the American Cancer Society. This creates band cells and can affect blood cell counts.
  • Other viral infections: Many other viral infections can also trigger symptoms of bandemia. They include human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and parainfluenza virus, per the 2020 study in children mentioned earlier.

Learn the differences between RSV and COVID-19.

Leukemia 

This is a cancer of the blood cells. There are several types, including: 

The exact cause of leukemia is unclear. However, it may involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors, according to 2022 research.

Treatments include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Read our complete guide to leukemia.

How do doctors diagnose bandemia?

Your clinician will typically make a diagnosis by reviewing your symptoms, medical record, and family history.

They may also draw a sample of your blood for a complete blood count (CBC). The results of a CBC can reveal your band cell count.

If your band cell count is high, your clinician may perform tests to evaluate the white blood cells.

Per 2022 research, these tests may include: 

  • Flow cytometry: Technicians take a sample of cells and analyze them in a suspension.
  • Bone marrow biopsy: Clinicians take a sample of your bone marrow.
  • Molecular testing: This can help identify certain types of leukemia.

How do doctors treat bandemia?

No single treatment can cure bandemia. Yet you can manage some of the underlying causes.

Your clinician may recommend chemotherapy or targeted therapy for leukemia.

They may also give you immunosuppressants if you have an IBD, per the NIDDK.

What is the outlook for bandemia?

The outlook depends on the underlying cause.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), such as ulcerative colitis, are usually lifelong conditions. A viral respiratory infection, on the other hand, may go away on its own or with self-care after some days or weeks. 

Try to follow your doctor’s treatment plan as intently as possible for the best outlook.

Summary

Bandemia is when the body makes more white blood cells than usual. It typically occurs with an infection or inflammation. 

Specific related conditions include leukemia, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Other conditions include adenovirus infection and RSV.

People with bandemia may experience easy bruising, fatigue, and recurring infections. They may also experience fever and weight loss.

Clinicians often diagnose the condition by reviewing your symptoms. They may also order a complete blood count (CBC).

Treatments vary depending on the underlying cause. Methods include steroids, immunosuppressants, and radiation therapy.

Schedule a meeting with your clinician if you have symptoms of bandemia or related conditions.

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Medical Reviewer: Julie Scott, DNP, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 9
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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