Monocytosis is a medical condition in which there is an elevation in the presence of a type of white blood cell known as a monocyte. Monocytes are formed in the bone marrow and play an important role in normal immune system functioning. Inflammatory disorders, infection and certain forms of cancer are the most common causes of monocytosis. Symptoms commonly include fatigue, weakness, fever or an overall feeling of being ill. Managing this condition involves diagnosing and treating the underlying cause of the blood cell elevation, and any questions or concerns about individual cases of monocytosis should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
Inflammatory conditions such as infection or autoimmune disturbances are primary causes of the condition. Some of the common types of infection that might lead to this condition include tuberculosis, syphilis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis might also lead to monocytosis. Some blood disorders might lead to a high number of monocytes as well. The use of prescription medications — often including antibiotics or steroid medications — can sometimes return the blood counts to normal, although the condition might become chronic in some patients.
Leukemia or a form of lymphoma known as Hodgkin's disease are types of cancer that are known to cause monocytosis. These cancers affect the blood or the bone marrow and restrict the body's natural disease-fighting abilities. The immune system is compromised as a result of these cancers, placing the patient at an increased risk of developing serious complications, even from ordinarily mild types of infection.
There usually are not any specific symptoms associated with the development of elevated monocytes. Most people will find out about the condition only through the use of routine blood tests or while being tested for another illness. People who do experience symptoms might feel tired or weak, and a low-grade fever might develop in some cases. These symptoms are easily confused with a variety of other medical conditions, sometimes leading to an inaccurate diagnosis if the proper blood work is not ordered by the doctor.
Monocytosis is actually a symptom of some other disease process and not a medical condition on its own, so treatment options vary widely. The primary goal of treatment is to accurately diagnose the underlying cause of the abnormal monocyte count. Prescription medications typically are successful in cases of infection or inflammation. Cancerous conditions might require more intensive treatment, such as radiation, chemotherapy or surgical intervention.