What is bandemia? It is a medical term used to describe an abnormally high level of band neutrophils in the blood. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that play an important role in our immune system, protecting us from harmful bacteria and other pathogens. A high band count may indicate that the body is fighting an infection, but it can also signal other medical conditions that require further investigation.
In this guide, we will take a closer look at bandemia, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. We will also explore some of the most frequently asked questions about this condition.
The Function of Neutrophils in Our Body
Before diving deeper into bandemia, let’s first discuss the role of neutrophils in our immune system. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that are among the first to respond to an infection. They can quickly move to the site of an infection, such as an open wound, and begin attacking any foreign invaders, like bacteria or viruses, that have entered the body.
In addition to fighting off pathogens, neutrophils also release enzymes and other chemicals that help recruit other immune cells to the area, creating an organized defense against the infection.
What are Band Neutrophils?
Band neutrophils, also known as band cells or immature neutrophils, are a type of white blood cell that are not fully matured. In healthy individuals, band neutrophils make up only a small percentage of our circulating white blood cells. However, in certain medical conditions, the body may produce more band neutrophils than usual, leading to a condition called bandemia.
Causes of High Band Counts
There are several medical conditions that can cause a high band count. Some common causes include:
- Infection: The most common cause of bandemia is an infection, particularly a bacterial infection, although viral infections and other types of infections can also cause an increase in band cells. In this case, the body is producing more white blood cells, including band cells, in an attempt to fight off the infection.
- Inflammation: Chronic inflammation, such as in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, can also cause an increase in band cells.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can reduce the number of mature neutrophils in the blood, leading to an increase in bands. Other medications, such as lithium, can directly cause an increase in band cells.
- Bone Marrow Disorders: In some cases, an abnormally high number of band cells may indicate a bone marrow disorder, such as leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome.
Symptoms of Bandemia
Bandemia itself does not usually cause any symptoms. Instead, symptoms will depend on the underlying medical condition that is causing the high band count. If the cause of high band count is an infection, common symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. In more severe cases, the infection can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition where the body’s response to an infection causes organ failure and other complications.
A high band count is typically identified as part of a complete blood count (CBC) test. This test measures the number of different types of cells in the blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A high percentage of band cells in the blood can indicate that the body is fighting an infection or has another underlying medical condition.
In order to determine the underlying cause of bandemia, your doctor may order additional tests, such as blood cultures, imaging tests, or biopsies. This can help identify whether the high band count is due to an infection or another medical condition.
Treatment for Bandemia
Treatment for bandemia will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. If the high band count is due to an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to fight the infection, along with over-the-counter medications to manage symptoms like fever and pain. In more severe cases, hospitalization may be required to receive more intensive treatment, such as intravenous antibiotics or other medications.
If the high band count is due to a bone marrow disorder, such as leukemia, more intensive treatments may be necessary, such as chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.
Common Questions About Bandemia
- What Does It Mean if You Have High Band Cells in Your Blood? An abnormally high number of band cells in the blood is called bandemia. It can indicate that the body is fighting an infection or have other underlying medical conditions.
- What Causes Bandemia? The most common cause of bandemia is an infection, but it can also result from inflammation, medication use, or bone marrow disorders.
- What are the Symptoms of Bandemia? Bandemia itself does not usually cause any symptoms, but underlying medical conditions may cause symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue.
- How is Bandemia Diagnosed? A high band count is typically identified as part of a complete blood count (CBC) test. Additional testing may be necessary to determine the underlying cause of the high band count.
- What is the Treatment for Bandemia? Treatment for bandemia will depend on the underlying cause, but may involve antibiotics or other medications, depending on the underlying condition.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, March 10). Complete Blood Count (CBC). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/complete-blood-count/about/pac-20384919
- Merck Manuals. (2021, August). Overview of White Blood Cell Disorders. Merck Manuals. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/blood-disorders/white-blood-cell-disorders/overview-of-white-blood-cell-disorders
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2019, June 17). Bone Marrow Tests. NIH. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/bone-marrow-tests