Low lymphocyte Count: Causes and Treatments

Lymphocytes can be categorized as types of white blood cells manufactured in the bone marrow and found in the immune system of vertebrates. Lymphocytes protect the body from viral or bacterial damage.

The 3 main lymphocytes types are:

  • T cells.
  • Neutral killer cells.
  • B cells.

These three types build the immunity of the body by preventing the growth of harmful cells. They also produce antibodies. The T and B cells are helpful in the control of cancerous cells growth. In 0rder for the body's immune system to functional properly, these blood lymphocytes have to be making up for between 15% and 40% of the white blood cells.


Low Lymphocyte Count

The lymphocyte count between 1000 and 4800/μL is what makes up the 15% -40% of the blood cells. If the count goes below 15% it is deemed abnormally low and is, therefore, a cause for concern. Low lymphocyte count indicates that the body is low on infection resistance. This means the body is susceptible to infections like tumors and cancer. It can also lead to the damage of various body organs.

Causes and Treatments of Low Lymphocytes

There are a lot of reasons that can lead to low lymphocyte count. Regardless of the reason, this condition has to be treated to avoid infections. One common reason is the trapping of lymphocytes on lymph nodes or spleen causing a decline on the lymphocytes count.

Most cases of low lymphocyte count are manageable and can easily be treated with medications like antibiotics. A simple blood test is enough to detect the condition. The detection of low lymphocyte count calls for further tests to determine the cause. It is hard to detect low lymphocyte count as there are no major symptoms. Regular medical check-ups are your best bet.

Treatments administered for low lymphocyte count will depend on the cause. A physician can determine the cause and administer medication appropriately.

1. Aplastic Anemia/Bone Marrow Dysfunction

Condition Description

Aplastic anemia occurs when the body is unable to produce adequate amounts of white blood cells. This condition leaves one fatigued and vulnerable to uncontrolled bleeding and infections. This condition can develop at any age. It occurs suddenly and worsens with time.

People who are going through treatment through high dose chemotherapy or radiation for cancer, exposed to some prescription drugs, or use toxic chemicals and pregnant women have a greater risk of having this condition.


Treatment includes blood transfusion, observation and medications. In severe cases, transplant of the bone marrow is advised. Home remedies include resting, staying away from contact sports or activities that may result to falls or cuts, and protection against germs and risk of infections.

Prevention includes avoiding direct exposure to herbicides, insecticides, solvents, and paint removers among other toxic chemicals.

2. Infectious Diseases

Condition Description

Some of the infectious diseases known to cause low lymphocyte count include tuberculosis, AIDS as well as viral hepatitis. AIDS is caused by the HIV. This virus causes destruction to the body's immune system. Tuberculosis affects the lungs and is fatal when not treated early. Viral hepatitis is a liver disease that leads to cancer of the liver if untreated.

Anyone can catch these infectious diseases. However, individuals with low immune system are more likely to fall ill. Risk factors include using immunity suppressing steroids, having HIV/AIDS, having certain cancer types and disorders affecting the immune system and using of medication that pre-disposes the patient to infections.


By determining the cause, the doctor is able to administer drugs appropriately. Most common drugs include antibiotics, antiviral, anti-parasitic and antifungal drugs.

3. Autoimmune Disorder

Condition Description

Autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, lupus as well as rheumatoid arthritis can lead to low lymphocytes count. Lupus leads to inflammation of body organs and is fatal. Multiple sclerosis destroys the nerve's protective covering causing physical disability while rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of joints leading to joint deformity.

Factors increasing your chances of contracting these disorders include the patient's sex, the age, lifestyle and family history. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, women above the age of 40 are more prone to the condition. For lifestyle risks, smoking cigarettes increases the chances of acquiring this disorder.


Autoimmune disorders are treated depending on the causes. For instance, though rheumatoid arthritis is incurable, mediation can be administered to recue inflammation and relieve pain. Physical and Occupational therapy offers assistance in protecting the joints. Steroids are administered to treat inflammatory conditions, note that they can cause further decline in the lymphocytes count.

4. Cancer

Condition Description

Cancers especially cancer of the blood can lead to low lymphocyte count. Lymphoma and leukemia are two symptoms of low lymphocytes count.


For cancer patients, radiation and chemotherapy are the only treatment options available. However, radiation and chemotherapy treatments may lead to further dropping of the lymphocyte count.

5. Inheritable Disorders

Inheritable disorders reduce the growth of cells, and this leads to a decrease in lymphocyte count. Examples of inheritable disorders include Wishott-Aldrich syndrome and DiGeorge anomaly.

6. Drug and Therapy Effect

Therapies meant to fight harmful cells can also be harmful to white blood cells. This leads to a low lymphocytes count. Drugs meant to fight cases like arthritis and other conditions also cause a reduction in lymphocyte count.

It's very important for you to know that most of the cases surrounding low lymphocytes count can be easily treated ad are not cause for alarm. It is advisable to have blood test done by a medical doctor every once in a while to determine the lymphocytes count. Low count can be treated when detected early. Early detection also ensures the problem does not escalate as it is handled early.

When low lymphocyte count is detected, further medical examination is required to determine the exact cause of the low count.

It is advisable to have regular medical check-ups with your doctor.

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