The white blood cell differential assesses the ability of the body to respond to and fight infection. It also detects the severity of allergic reactions, parasitic and other types of infection, and drug reactions. It can also identify some types of leukaemia or lymphoma.
The results indicate the percentage of each type of white blood cell that is present.
can increase in response to infection, inflammatory disease, steroid medication, or more rarely leukaemia. Decreased neutrophil levels may be the result of severe infection or other conditions, such as responses to various medications or chemotherapy.
can increase in cases of bacterial or infection, leukaemia, lymphoma, or radiation therapy. Decreased lymphocyte levels are common in later life but can also indicate steroid mediation, stress, lupus and HIV infection.
levels can increase, in response to infection of all kinds as well as to inflammatory disorders. Occasionally persistently elevated monocyte levels may be associated with some types of leukaemias. Decreased monocyte levels can indicate bone marrow injury or failure and some forms of leukaemia.
can increase in response to allergic disorders, of the skin and parasitic infections. They can also occur in response to some infections or to various bone marrow malignancies.
can increase in cases of leukaemia, long-standing inflammation, the presence of a hypersensitivity reaction to food, or radiation therapy.
Eating, physical activity and stress may alter white blood cell differential values.
Long-term exposure to toxic chemicals (for example some solvents, petroleum products and insecticides) can increase the risk of an abnormal differential.