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What Is Basophilia?

By T. Carrier
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Basophilia occurs when the levels of white blood cell types known as basophils are elevated in the body. These substances will typically rise in blood or bone marrow. A number of different conditions may increase basophil quantity, including respiratory ailments, infections, and blood disorders. Symptoms and treatments for basophilia are thus often determined by these underlying conditions.

The term basophil references a scarce form of white blood cell found in both blood and bone marrow. They serve as important agents in the immune system's fight against infection and injury by promoting responses like blood clotting. An abnormal basophil quantity — or any other abnormal white blood cell quanitity — may therefore signal a serious problem. Levels of basophils that are too low create basopenia, whereas elevated counts lead to basophilia.

Basophila may occur independently, but it is typically indicative of an underlying condition. Ulcers, anemia, and thyroid conditions are a few examples of disorders that appear with basophilia. Since basophils release substances called histamines associated with bodily inflammatory and allergic reactions, infections or respiratory conditions like asthma are a particularly prevalent culprit behind basophilia.

Perhaps the most common reason for the condition’s emergence is a type of cancer known as chronic myelocytic leukemia. This disease impacts the substances responsible for basophil production: stem cells in the bone marrow. As such, cancerous cells dramatically increase all of the white blood cells created by the bone marrow, including eosinophils, neutrophils, and basophils. In many cases, elevated blood cell counts like those found in basophilia are the primary indicator of the leukemia. Conditions that facilitate abnormal blood cell growth inside bone marrow are collectively known as myeloproliferative disorders.

In isolation, basophilia may appear with no symptoms. Indicators concurrent with underlying conditions may signal the problem, however. When one considers myeloproliferative disorders, for example, an enlarged spleen is present during a large percentage of cases. Fatigue, bone pain, and weight loss are other potential symptoms of chronic myelocytic leukemia. Respiratory conditions, on the other hand, typically feature breathing difficulties as the most prevalent symptom. Infectious symptoms vary depending on the type of infection.

Potential remedies for basophila usually depend on treating the source of the condition. For the most severe cases, such as those involving cancer, a bone marrow transplant may be needed. Respiratory causes and infections may benefit from anti-allergy medications and antibiotics, respectively. A physician can recommend the most effective course of action.

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Discussion Comments

By shell4life — On Jul 30, 2011

Basophilia was a side effect of my hypothyroidism. My thyroid gland could not produce enough of the hormones needed to regulate my metabolism. I did not know that I had the condition for years, because symptoms don’t generally show up in the early stages.

Over time, I gained weight without knowing why. I felt tired all the time, and I hated being cold. I would wear sweaters indoors everywhere I went in the summertime, because the air conditioning hurt my skin. I frequently became constipated, and my voice started to get hoarse.

My doctor diagnosed me with hypothyroidism once I pointed out all of these symptoms. He also said that my white blood cell count was high because of the condition. I now have to take a synthetic thyroid hormone for the rest of my life.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 29, 2011

I went to my physician after a nasty cold went down into my chest. The horrible cough produced lots of phlegm. Nighttime was the worst. I could not sleep, and I coughed so much that it hurt.

When my physician told me I had basophilia, I freaked out at first. I thought maybe my white blood cell count was high because I had cancer and didn’t know it. She reassured me quickly that I only had an upper respiratory infection, and it could be cured with steroids and antibiotics.

The antibiotics help the basophils accomplish their purpose so that they could calm down. The steroids helped me recover extra quickly, also helping alleviate the basophilia.

By seag47 — On Jul 29, 2011

I experienced basophilia during my sinus infection. My nose, throat, and chest had been chronically inflamed for two months. I kept being stubborn and putting off going to the doctor, but the condition just would not go away.

The basophilia meant that my body was engaged in a long battle against the infection. The basophils had been trying to eat the infection, but they needed some extra help.

My doctor prescribed some antibiotics to help the basophils in their war. Also, I had to take an anti-histamine to help alleviate the symptoms.

By Perdido — On Jul 28, 2011

At the extremely young age of four, my niece developed chronic myelocytic leukemia. Her mother knew at her first checkup that the occurrence of basophilia was not a good indication. She had always heard that a high white blood cell count usually means cancer.

My niece was so strong throughout her illness. Everyone admired her spirit. You could tell that she felt tired most of the time, and her small bones ached a lot. Still, she kept smiling and laughing.

She eventually died of leukemia. Her mother has two more children, and every time she takes them to the doctor, she fears she might hear that dreaded word “basophilia” again. So far, the other kids have been very healthy.

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