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Lymphocytosis (High Lymphocyte Count)

Team AckoSept 20, 2023

Lymphocytes can be understood as a type of white blood cell in the body. If this count is high, it results in a condition known as Lymphocytosis. This article highlights the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for Lymphocytosis.

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Contents

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What is Lymphocytosis?

Lymphocytosis is a condition where there is an increased number of lymphocytes in the bloodstream. It can be a normal response to infections, such as viral infections or certain medications. However, it can also be indicative of underlying medical conditions, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, or autoimmune disorders.

Signs of Lymphocytosis

Common symptoms associated with Lymphocytosis include the following.

Causes of Lymphocytosis

There are several causes of Lymphocytosis, including the following.

  • Viral infections, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or cytomegalovirus (CMV)

  • Bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis or pertussis

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Leukaemia or lymphoma

  • Medications, such as corticosteroids or anticonvulsants

  • Chronic inflammatory diseases, such as sarcoidosis or Crohn's disease

  • Stress or emotional trauma

  • Allergic reactions

  • Vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin B12 or folate

  • Smoking or exposure to environmental toxins

What complications are associated with Lymphocytosis?

Complications associated with Lymphocytosis can vary depending on the underlying cause. Here are some possible complications.

  • Immune system dysfunction: Excessive lymphocytes can disrupt the balance of the immune system.

  • Leukaemia: In some cases, Lymphocytosis may be a sign of leukaemia, a type of blood cancer that affects the production of lymphocytes.

  • Organ damage: If Lymphocytosis is left untreated or becomes severe, it can lead to organ damage.

  • Secondary infections: Lymphocytosis can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to secondary infections, such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections.

  • Complications of underlying conditions: If the underlying cause of Lymphocytosis is a chronic condition, complications associated with that condition may arise. For example, if Lymphocytosis is caused by HIV/AIDS, complications related to weakened immunity and opportunistic infections can occur.

  • Thrombosis: In rare cases, Lymphocytosis can increase the risk of blood clots forming, leading to conditions like deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

  • Hyperviscosity syndrome: In some cases, Lymphocytosis can cause hyperviscosity syndrome, a condition characterised by thickened blood. 

Diagnosis of Lymphocytosis

To diagnose Lymphocytosis, healthcare providers typically perform the following steps.

  • Physical examination: The healthcare provider will conduct a thorough physical examination of the patient. This may involve checking for enlarged lymph nodes, feeling for organomegaly (enlarged organs), and assessing any other physical symptoms.

  • Medical history review: The healthcare provider will review the patient's medical history, including any past illnesses, surgeries, or medications. This helps provide potential clues about the cause of Lymphocytosis.

  • Blood tests: A complete blood count (CBC) with differential is commonly ordered to assess the levels and types of blood cells. In Lymphocytosis, the CBC may show an increased number of lymphocytes. The differential portion of the CBC helps determine the percentage of lymphocytes present compared to other types of white blood cells.

  • Additional tests: Depending on the initial findings and suspected cause of Lymphocytosis, additional tests may be ordered. Flow cytometry is a laboratory technique that can further analyse and characterise the specific types of lymphocytes present. This can help differentiate between normal and abnormal lymphocytes. 

Treatment of Lymphocytosis

Here’s how doctors treat Lymphocytosis.

  • Managing the underlying cause: This may involve treating an infection, resolving an autoimmune response, or addressing any neoplastic conditions.

  • Antiviral and antibiotic treatments for viral and bacterial infections: These medications help to combat the infection and reduce the excessive production of lymphocytes.

  • Immunosuppressive therapy for autoimmune-related Lymphocytosis: In cases where Lymphocytosis is caused by an autoimmune response, immunosuppressive therapy may be recommended. This treatment aims to suppress the immune system and reduce the production of lymphocytes. By doing so, it helps to control the autoimmune response and prevent further damage to the body's tissues and organs.

  • Surgical interventions for neoplastic Lymphocytosis: Neoplastic Lymphocytes refer to the abnormal growth of lymphocytes, often associated with cancer or tumours. In some cases, surgical interventions such as tumour removal or lymph node biopsy may be necessary to manage this condition. These surgical procedures aim to remove the source of abnormal lymphocyte production and prevent further complications.

Prevention of Lymphocytosis

Lymphocytosis cannot be prevented. However, there are several measures that can be taken to maintain overall health and reduce the risk of infections that may lead to Lymphocytosis.

  • Engaging in regular physical activity helps strengthen the immune system and improves overall health. 

  • Consume a variety of nutrient-rich foods. 

  • Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can weaken the immune system. So, avoid them.

  • Limit exposure to pollutants, chemicals, and other toxins that can harm the immune system.

  • Regular medical check-ups and screenings can help detect any underlying health conditions early on and prevent them from progressing further.

  • Crowded areas can increase the risk of exposure to infections. It is advisable to avoid crowded places, especially during flu seasons or outbreaks.

  • Proper oral hygiene can prevent oral infections that can affect the immune system.

  • Overuse of antibiotics can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the body and weaken the immune system. Using antibiotics only when necessary and as prescribed by a healthcare professional is important.

  • Allergens can trigger immune responses and increase inflammation in the body. Identifying and avoiding allergens can help reduce the burden on the immune system.

  • Immunizations play a crucial role in preventing certain infections that can lead to Lymphocytosis. Vaccines are available to protect against various diseases, such as influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, pneumonia, and more. By getting vaccinated, the body develops immunity to these diseases, reducing the risk of infection and subsequent Lymphocytosis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a rundown of some common queries along with answers pertaining to Lymphocytosis.

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How common is Lymphocytosis?

Lymphocytosis is a relatively common condition, but its prevalence varies depending on the underlying cause.

Can high lymphocytes be temporary?

Yes, high lymphocytes can be temporary. There are various reasons for temporary elevation in lymphocyte levels. Some possible causes include an ongoing infection, recent vaccination, or even physical or emotional stress. In most cases, these elevated levels will return to normal once the underlying cause is resolved or the body has had time to recover.

When to consult the doctor?

Consult a doctor if you experience persistently high lymphocyte levels or if you have any concerning symptoms along with the high lymphocytes. 

What are the side effects of high lymphocytes?

While high lymphocytes themselves do not typically cause specific side effects, the underlying condition or cause of the high lymphocyte levels may have associated symptoms. Some possible side effects of high lymphocytes may include fatigue, weakness, frequent infections, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, and unexplained weight loss.

Is 52 percent lymphocytes high?

A lymphocyte level of 52 percent may be considered high, depending on the reference range used by the laboratory. Normal lymphocyte levels typically range from 20 to 40 percent of the total white blood cell count. However, reference ranges can vary slightly, and other factors such as age and overall health should be taken into consideration when determining if a lymphocyte level is high.

References

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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