Monocytes Low – The Little Soldiers In Your Body

Monocytes Low – The Little Soldiers In Your Body

Did you recently do a blood analysis and receive a result that stated, “monocytes low,” or do you know someone who got back a low mono blood test? Even if your favorite subject in school was biology, the different health terms regarding our complex blood count can get a little confusing: monocytes, hemoglobin, erythrocytes (red blood cells), hematocrit, lymphocytes, cholesterol, and many more. CARE is here to shed light on low monocytes causes and will explain to you in detail what monocytes are and how they are important for your body.

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE
Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach

Published in General Health
9 min read · Oct 13, 2023

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What Are Monocytes? — A Type Of White Blood Cell

Monocytes are a vital component of your body's immune system. They are a type of white blood cells, and they play a distinctive role in defending your body against infections and maintaining tissue health. So, there are different types of white blood cells? Yes.

White blood cells, also known as leukocytes, include neutrophils, lymphocytes (T cells/T lymphocytes and B cells), monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils, each with distinct roles in your immune system's defense against infections and diseases. [1]

Monocytes make up 2 to 8% of your total white blood cell count. [2]

These versatile immune cells are characterized by their large, kidney-shaped nuclei (a central part of an atom that controls its growth) and the ability to engulf and digest pathogens, cellular debris, and foreign substances. You can imagine them like little soldiers and warriors fighting for your health. [1]

Monocytes are produced in your bone marrow, and they circulate in your bloodstream, where they can quickly migrate into tissues when needed. Once monocytes enter the tissues, they undergo a transformation into macrophages. Macrophages are larger cells with an enhanced capacity for phagocytosis, which is the process of engulfing and digesting pathogens, cellular debris, and foreign substances. Monocytes and macrophages also recognize the antibodies attached to pathogens and engulf the pathogen-antibody complex more efficiently. This helps in the elimination of pathogens from your body. [1]

Do you have a low monocyte count and are concerned about what this means? There are many reasons why you can have a low monocytes count, and you should remain calm.

We know that many physicians and health professionals lack the time to explain blood analysis results in detail and in an understandable manner to their patients. The lack of transparency and explanation of blood results is one of the reasons why we founded CARE. Since healthcare systems all around the world are designed to treat sick people, there was no real port of call for staying healthy before we founded CARE.

At CARE, we advise you while you're healthy and make sure you stay that way or even improve your health. Our digital tools and top-notch laboratories facilitate access to health data and enable a frictionless experience that enables early detection of diseases and an extension of your health span.

CARE’s health professionals provide you with a personal and detailed consultation with doctors who take the time to explain your blood count results to you and give you guidance on how to improve your health and wellness.

But let's get back to the topic of this article: your absolute monocyte count.

What is even considered a low monocyte count?

What Is Considered A Low Monocyte Count (Monocytopenia)?

When a blood analysis reveals “monocytes low,” it indicates that there is a reduced number of these immune cells in your blood.

A normal count of monocytes ranges between 2 and 8% monocytes of your white blood cell count, which equals about 200 to 800 monocytes per microliter of blood in healthy adults. [2]

On your blood analysis, this normal range would show up somehow like this: 0.2 – 0.8 x10^9/L.

If your absolute monocytes are low, this condition is known as monocytopenia. The opposite condition, monocytosis, refers to too many monocytes in your blood a high monocyte count. [3]

But is it bad if you have low monocytes, and what causes monocytopenia?

What Causes Monocytopenia?

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Monocytopenia can result from various underlying factors such as chronic infections, bone marrow disorders, medications, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, leukemia, nutritional deficiencies, or exposure to toxins. [3]

And how does this affect your body?

Low monocyte levels can compromise your body's immune response and, therefore, its ability to combat infections effectively. They may signify an underlying medical issue that requires further investigation and potential treatment to restore your immune function and health. [3]

Monocytes Low Symptoms – What Are The Symptoms of Low Monocyte Levels?

Let's take a closer look at how low monocyte levels can affect you personally.

Understanding the symptoms of monocytes low, a condition known as monocytopenia, is like deciphering clues from your body about its inner workings. [2]

So, let's uncover the signs and symptoms you might experience if your monocyte levels run on the low side.

1. Are You Often Sick? — Increased Susceptibility to Infections

Think of monocytes as your immune system's brave soldiers, always ready to battle against invading pathogens. When their numbers dip below average, it's like having fewer troops on the front lines. The result? You become more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections. [2]

You might notice getting sick more often, experiencing recurrent respiratory infections, stubborn skin issues, or even more severe infections that seem harder to shake.

2. Scratched Skin Might Become An Issue – Prolonged Healing and Delayed Recovery

Monocytes aren't just soldiers but also the medics in your body's army. They play a crucial role in tissue repair and wound healing. But when their numbers are low, your body's healing process can slow down – even with minor wounds like a bruise on your skin. [2]

That means injuries, surgeries, or even everyday bumps and bruises may take longer to mend. You might find yourself feeling frustrated by the delay in your body's natural ability to recover from viral infections or a bruised knee.

3. Your Energy Is Low – Persistent Fatigue

Are you feeling like you're constantly running on empty? Low monocyte levels can contribute to unrelenting fatigue and weakness. Your immune system demands a lot of energy, and when it's not functioning at its best, you might experience a lingering sense of weariness, no matter how much rest you get. [2]

This fatigue can zap your motivation and affect your daily life.

4. You're Hot – Unexplained Fever

Yes, you’re hot, but not in the desiring sense this time. Monocytes play a role in managing your body's temperature during infections and inflammation. With fewer monocytes on duty, you might notice unexplained fevers cropping up. [4]

Your body's internal thermostat can go haywire as it fends off hidden infections or underlying inflammatory issues, raising your body’s temperature.

5. Mysterious Symptoms – Generalized Inflammation

Inflammation is an essential and natural process in our body. Monocytes are like the peacekeepers in your body, helping to control inflammation. When their numbers drop, you might experience more inflammation than usual. This could lead to joint pain, swelling, and mysterious skin rashes. [2]

It's like your body's alarm system is on high alert, even when there isn't an immediate threat.

6. Acceleration of Existing Illnesses – Frequent Illness Relapses

If you have an existing chronic illness or infection, like tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, endocarditis, aplastic anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, or HIV, low monocyte levels can make managing these conditions more challenging. [2]

You might find yourself dealing with more frequent relapses or struggles in keeping these autoimmune diseases and medical conditions in check.

How Are Monocyte Levels Tested?

Let’s explore how your monocytes levels are tested, as this can seem a little abstract.

It all begins with a simple blood draw. Drawing blood is a routine procedure conducted by a healthcare professional, often in a physician's office, clinical setting, or in one of our futuristic CARE practices.

A needle is gently inserted into a vein in your arm, allowing a small amount of your blood to be collected into a sterile tube.

Your blood sample now embarks on its journey to a laboratory, where it undergoes a meticulous process of analysis. There, laboratory technicians work diligently to prepare your sample for testing. They carefully handle the precious cargo that holds the secrets of your monocytes.

Among the numerous parameters assessed in your blood, the Complete Blood Count (CBC) is a crucial part of the analysis. This comprehensive test provides valuable insights into various blood components, including your monocytes. It measures the proportion and number of monocytes in your blood, providing a snapshot of your immune health. [5]

Within the CBC, there's a particular segment dedicated to white blood cells, where monocytes are classified as well. Here, the different types of white blood cells—neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils—are carefully counted and analyzed.

This differential count helps identify any imbalances in your white blood cell populations.

Once the analysis is complete, your healthcare provider receives a detailed report with your blood test results. Normal monocyte levels typically fall within the specific range that we have discussed already (between 2 and 8% of your white blood cells), and any deviations from this range may signal an issue with your immune system or overall health. [5]

If your monocyte levels are too low or high, it is necessary to explore potential causes. This may involve further testing, diagnostic investigations, or the development of a tailored treatment plan to address any underlying issues with your healthcare provider.

If you have determined that there is no serious cause or illness leading to your low monocyte count, we at CARE will be happy to advise you on different strategies and lifestyle choices that enable you to increase your monocyte count and thereby take your health to the next level.

What Can I Do to Increase My Monocyte Count? — Strengthening Your Army of White Blood Cells

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Suppose you've learned that your monocyte count is lower than ideal, or you simply want to enhance your immune system; fear not! CARE has got you covered.

You can take some steps to support and increase your monocyte count, ensuring that your body's immune army is ready for action.

CARE has curated some strategies for you to boost your monocyte count and fortify your immune defenses.

Ready? Buckle up.

1. A Healthy Diet Is Key – Balanced Nutrition

It might be getting old to always read about a healthy diet, but it really is crucial and vital for your health. Food is the fuel for your body to function properly, and the meals that you feed your body can quite literally “make it or break it” when it comes to your short and long-term health. Food is life!

Since our dietary intake impacts every biological process in our body, your body's immune system relies on various nutrients to function optimally. Ensure your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium. These nutrients support the production and function of monocytes. [2] You can incorporate a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your meals.

2. Exercise Regularly

Move your body. Regular physical activity has numerous health benefits, including supporting your immune system. Exercise can help stimulate the production of monocytes and improve their function. [6]

Aim for a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises for a well-rounded fitness routine that helps with circulation.

3. Hit The Snooze Button – Prioritize Sleep

We encourage you to hit your snooze button more often or go to bed a little earlier than you might be used to.

Quality sleep is when your body does much of its repair and immune system maintenance work. Aim for 7–9 hours of restful sleep each night to support your body’s monocyte production and overall immune health. [2]

4. Relax, Take It Easy — Manage Stress

Stress is not only bad for your mood and your quality of life, but chronic stress can negatively impact your immune system as well, including monocyte production and function. [2]

Incorporate stress-reduction techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or hobbies that bring you joy to help manage stress effectively. Surround yourself with people and activities that bring you joy and contentedness rather than draining you of energy and giving you stress.

List of References

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE

Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach at CARE Zurich

About the author

Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!