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) corticosteroids.
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.