An increased number of red blood cells
(erythrocytosis). This occurs when the person has had low oxygen levels in the
blood (hypoxemia) for a long period of time. Red blood cells carry oxygen in
the blood. Because of damage to the lungs, a person with COPD often cannot get
enough air. The body reacts by producing more red blood cells to try to
increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.
An increased number of
white blood cells.
An increase in the white blood cells that
fight infection (neutrophils) may mean that the person has an infection. An increase
in neutrophils can also occur in response to using oral or intravenous (IV)
An increase in the white blood cells that may be
produced during an allergic reaction (eosinophils) may mean that a
condition such as
asthma is causing the symptoms.