What Is an Eosinophil Count (EOS Blood Test)?

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An eosinophil count (EOS blood test) measures the number of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in your body. This result can help identify the cause of certain symptoms and aid in the diagnosis of a number of conditions.

Gloved hand holding a blood draw tube with the label "eosinophils count (EC) test".

Md Ariful Islam / Getty Images

In healthy individuals, eosinophils make up less than 5% of white blood cells. An EOS count greater than this indicates an increased immune response and inflammation, which can point to issues ranging from allergies to certain cancers. Low levels can point to an issue with production of this cell type.

Eosinophil levels can be measured through a routine complete blood count (CBC) test by multiplying the total white blood cell (WBC) count by the percentage of eosinophils.

This article explains when an EOS blood test may be ordered, how to prepare, how it is done, and what the results may mean.

What Are Eosinophils?

Eosinophils are white blood cells that play an important role in your body’s immune response to help fight off infection. Like other white blood cells, eosinophils are produced in the bone marrow and travel to different tissues throughout the body to protect against infection and disease.

Why Would I Need an EOS Blood Test?

Eosinophils increase inflammation to help the body fight off perceived threats (like allergens) and real threats (like infection and disease).

Your healthcare provider may order an EOS blood test if you're experiencing symptoms that indicate you may have abnormal eosinophil levels, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Runny nose (particularly if allergy-related) 
  • Weight loss

They may recommend this test if they suspect you have a certain condition or disease. There are several for which eosinophil levels may be high (e.g., asthma, parasitic infection, certain cancers) or low (e.g., alcohol use disorder, Cushing's syndrome).

A routine complete blood count (CBC) test is also often part of an annual physical. This blood test will measure your eosinophil level as well as other components in your blood.

While tests that measure eosinophil levels alone cannot be used to identify the existence of a health condition, it can provide information that helps your provider reach a diagnosis.

How an Eosinophil Test Is Done

An eosinophil count is obtained with a straightforward lab test of a blood sample.

  1. A healthcare provider find a vein to draw blood from, most typically on the inside of your elbow.
  2. An antiseptic is then applied to the area to kill harmful bacteria.
  3. An elastic band is wrapped around your arm to help push blood into the vein, making collecting the sample faster and easier.
  4. Once the antiseptic has dried, the healthcare provider will insert a needle into your vein to collect the blood into a small glass tube (vial) attached to the needle.
  5. After the blood has been collected, the elastic band and needle will be removed from your arm.
  6. A cotton ball and bandage will be placed on the area to stop bleeding. 

From there, your blood will be taken to a lab where it is placed on a microscope slide. A stain is added to the blood to ensure eosinophils are easily detected; they will appear as orange-red granules.

A lab technician will count how many eosinophils are present per 100 cells and share the results with your healthcare provider.

Is an EOS Blood Test Painful?

You may feel a mild pinch or sting when the needle is inserted and withdrawn from your skin. You may also experience tenderness at the site for an hour or two after the blood for your EOS test is drawn. 

How to Prepare for an EOS Blood Test

There are no special steps required to prepare for the EOS blood test. This includes fasting.

As with any blood test, a draw may be easier if you are well-hydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of water ahead of time.

Tell your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you are taking before your test. Certain ones can increase eosinophil counts, including:

What Your EOS Results Mean

The laboratory technician will send the results of your EOS test to your healthcare provider within a week. Your healthcare provider will review the results and share them with you.

Your eosinophil blood counts can vary at different times of day and on different days, but the variability in results is generally not a cause for concern, as this is normal.

Normal Eosinophil Range

A normal absolute eosinophil count ranges from 0 to 500 cells per microliter (<0.5 x 109/L). This typically amounts to less than 5% of all white blood cells.

Different laboratories may have different normal reference ranges. Your healthcare provider can explain your results and provide clarity if you have any questions. 

High Eosinophil Levels

An above-normal eosinophil count is known as eosinophilia. High eosinophil counts can range from mild to severe:

  • Mild: 500 to 1,500 eosinophil cells per microliter of blood
  • Moderate: 1,500 to 5,000 eosinophil cells per microliter of blood
  • Severe: 5,000 or more eosinophil cells per microliter of blood

A high eosinophil count may be due to:

In terms of cancer specifically, the following types can cause high eosinophils:

The exact EOS level that may be present with cancer depends on the type of cancer involved and the person it affects. Results can range from mild-high to severely-high eosinophil counts.

Your healthcare provider will order additional tests to firm up your diagnosis, which will dictate treatment.

Low Eosinophil Levels

Eosinophils are normally low in healthy adults. However, certain health conditions and medications may suppress eosinophil levels.

Corticosteroids and other immune system suppressant medications can reduce the production and function of eosinophils.

Cushing's syndrome occurs when the body has too much cortisol (stress hormone) over a long period of time. High levels of cortisol suppress the immune system and may reduce eosinophil counts.

Sepsis, which is the body's extreme response to an acute bacterial or viral infection, can also cause lower eosinophil levels. This life-threatening condition interferes with the cytokines that regulate eosinophil production.

Heavy alcohol use lowers white blood cells in general, so it's likely it lowers the amount of eosinophils, too.

If you have low eosinophil counts with symptoms that may indicate an underlying health condition, your healthcare provider will order additional tests to provide an accurate diagnosis. 

One study from 2016 found that a low eosinophil count was associated with a short-term risk of cardiovascular disease, but it's unclear if one causes the other.


Eosinophils are specialized white blood cells that help the body fight off infection. Your healthcare provider may order an EOS blood test to check the number of eosinophils in the bloodstream.

This may be to investigate the cause of certain symptoms, such as diarrhea, fever, or rash. Or it may be to help diagnose a suspected condition, like asthma, an infection, or certain cancers.

Treatment for the underlying cause of eosinophilia typically restores eosinophil levels within a normal range.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can stress result in high eosinophils?

    High eosinophil counts are not associated with stress. In fact, stress may decrease eosinophil levels. High-stress situations cause the body to increase cortisol (stress hormone) production, which can cause a significant decrease in eosinophil counts.

  • Can certain foods increase eosinophil count?

    Allergic reactions to certain triggers—including foods—can increase eosinophil counts. If you eat a food you're allergic to, your body may produce more eosinophils in reaction to the allergen. Avoiding foods that trigger an allergic reaction can help you maintain normal levels of eosinophils in your body. 

  • Do you experience physical symptoms of high eosinophils?

    Mild eosinophilia (less than 1,500 eosinophil cells per microliter of blood) does not typically cause symptoms. Higher levels of eosinophils may cause asthma, diarrhea, itching, rash, and a runny nose. If high eosinophil levels are caused by an underlying health condition, you may have symptoms related to that disease.

  • Can I reduce my eosinophil count?

    In the majority of cases, an elevated eosinophil count will lower once the underlying cause is treated. However, some things that may help reduce your eosinophil count include:

    • Avoiding foods or allergens that trigger an allergic reaction
    • Stopping or changing the dose of a medication that is causing a drug reaction (after consulting with a healthcare professional)
    • Taking anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids
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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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