Low Monocytes: Symptoms, Causes,Treatment

Knowing about your health is important.

However, most people begin to take their health seriously once they have a headache or the flu.

This shouldn’t be the case…

In this article, you’ll get information about the causes, symptoms and treatment of low monocytes.


What are Monocytes?

These are a form of white blood cells created in the bone marrow.(1)

The monocytes are integral in the immune system as they help fight certain infections and help other white blood cells eliminate damaged body tissues. They have a distinguishing feature; they have big, kidney-shaped nucleus.

Monocytes account for about 2-10% of white blood cells circulating in the blood.(2,3)

After a few circulation hours, they move to tissues such as the liver, spleen, bone marrow tissue and the lungs, where they turn into macrophages.

Macrophages are scavenger cells in the human immune system. Particular genetic disorders affect the functioning of macrophages and monocytes leading to fatty debris buildup in the cells.

This leads to lipid storage diseases, for instance, Niemann-Pick and Gaucher diseases.

You may experience an increase in monocyte count owing to certain cancers, blood disorders, and chronic infections. However, an increase in macrophages in other body parts may occur in response to Langerhans cells histiocytosis, infections and sarcoidosis.

Monocytopenia, which is a low monocyte count in the bloodstream, is harmful because you are prone to infections.

The risk of the infections will, however, count on the severity and the cause of the low monocyte count.

Low monocytes lead to vulnerability to disorders caused by bacteria that occur in the gastrointestinal or the urinary tract. It can be diagnosed via a blood count test.

However, doctors still use bone marrow biopsy to unearth the reason for low monocyte count.


Symptoms of Low Monocytes

Low monocyte will not cause any symptom, but the manifested symptoms will count on the underlying problem causing the low count.

For starters, infections may lead to fever, chills, coughing, frequent urination and flu-like symptoms.

Some of the symptoms are explained below:(4)

» Low monocyte count may lead to weakness. The immune system is burdened in the fight against infections. In a bid to maintain the general health, you’ll be feeling extremely weak.

» Patients who suffer from monocytopenia are susceptible to fatigue. They are likely to be exhausted for most hours of the day. This will perhaps disrupt their activities.

» Recurrent infections. Monocytes present in the blood stream and a majority of tissues, protect the body from pathogens. When their number drops, a person falls prey of frequent recurrent infections.

» Breathing problems. A drop in the number of monocytes is accompanied by a drop in the number of red blood cells. The red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. A drop in their number would, therefore, mean that blood oxygen content will be low and this would translate to breathing problems.



Monocytopenia may occur reference to a variety of medical conditions.

These are:(5)

» Deficiency of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a critical ingredient in the production of monocytes and other white blood cells. Insufficient vitamin B12 would indicate that you are likely to suffer from monocytopenia.(check price at Amazon)

» Unhealthy bone marrow. Bone marrow disorders will significantly affect the production of monocytes and their count would go below average. Some medical conditions have been found to be the basis of bone marrow disorders:

» Hairy cell leukemia. This is a form of cancer marked by overproduction of B cells in the bone marrow. When viewed in a microscopic examination, the B cells appear hairy, thus the name. Research has it that, overproduction of the B cells leads to low monocytes count.

» Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disorder marked by the inflammation of joints, which is known to lead to bone marrow failure. Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may have inflammatory lesions. Therefore, these patients are at the risk of low monocyte.

» Lupus. The lupus is a critical inflammatory disorder where the immune system “fights” body tissues and organs. The condition also invades the bone marrow, and that’s why monocytopenia can be diagnosed among lupus patients.

» Aplastic anemia. This is a disorder where the bone marrow loses the capacity to produce the red blood cells, platelets, and the white blood cells. The bone marrow is critical in the production of stems cells, which in turn generate other forms of blood cells. In aplastic anemia, the stems cells do not mature and this leads to a shortage of monocytes.

» HIV/AIDS. Bone marrow failure is rampant among HIV/AIDS patients. The HIV virus significantly affects the immune system. This affects the production of white blood cells causing the number of monocytes to fall below the normal range.

» Tuberculosis. This is a bacterial lung infection that shifts to other body parts. When the bacteria invade the bone marrow, it suppresses and impedes its functioning. This generally leads to reduced number of monocytes.

» Medications

Interferons. Oral interferons prescribed for viral hepatitis treatment possess numerous negative impacts on the production of monocytes. Patients put on interferons register low monocyte count.

Chemotherapy. Radiation therapy, as well as chemotherapy drugs that are often used for cancer treatment, may cause monocytopenia. This form of treatment is known to lower the production of blood cells. According to “Merk Manuals chemotherapy destroys both cancerous and healthy blood cells.(6) A cancer patient is more likely to suffer low monocyte count.

Corticosteroids. This is an anti-inflammatory medication that lowers the production of monocytes. Immunosuppressive drugs affect cell count and monocyte functioning.



A doctor can prescribe different treatments depending on your overall health, the cause and severity of monocytopenia.

Also, the treatment will depend on secondary infections as well as related symptoms.

WBC production. Administering WBC growth factor and using antifungal and antibiotic drugs to treat infections that caused low white blood cell count can boost the production of WBC. Intravenous immune globulin and corticosteroid therapies can also be helpful.

Balanced diet. According to Mayo clinic, having a balanced diet can go a long way in boosting the production of white blood cells.(7) Taking precautions to avoid infections will also yield better results. Therefore, you should wear gloves and wash your hands to avoid contamination.


Foods for Monocyte Health

Certain foods have been proven to maintain monocyte count:

» Mediterranean diet. According to Livestrong, monounsaturated oils found in olive, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fruits, protect against inflammatory infections that affect monocyte count.(8) Avoid saturated and pass on trans fats often found in fast foods.

» Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil and fatty fish including mackerel and salmon, have properties that protect against heart diseases and inflammations. (check price on Amazon)

Take fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as fish supplements in order to decrease monocyte inflammation.(9)


Foods You Need to Avoid

Sugar intake. High blood glucose and diabetes increase monocyte inflammation.(10) Cutting refined sugars from your daily meal will lessen the chances of having a heart disorder or an inflammation.

Alcohol intake. Controlled alcohol intake helps reduce the risk of inflammation.(11,12) However, heavy alcohol intake is injurious and stimulates monocyte inflammation.(13)

Purple grape juice also has a similar protective effect as alcohol.(14)



Monocytopenia is a disorder you can avoid.

Having a balanced diet and avoiding heavy alcohol intake can really help. If the worse happens, seek the help of a medical practitioner.

If you are infected with the HIV virus or tuberculosis, it is important you seek medical attention and go for regular monocyte count checkups.