Lymphocytes, a class of white blood cells produced in the bone marrow, have the important task of protecting the body by fighting viruses and bacteria in the blood system
Under normal conditions, the blood count of a healthy person usually indicates values ranging from 1,500 to 4,000 leukocytes per cubic millimetre of blood. However, when the count is higher than these values, it is an indication that the body requires more leukocytes in the blood due to an infection or other disease.
It is vital to know how to interpret what elevated blood lymphocyte counts mean, as well as to know their causes and the treatment for this. This article will look at these issues
Contenido del Artículo
what is lymphocytosis?
Lymphocytes are one of the main cells of the immune system, whose function is to prevent infections and protect the body from foreign agents. They make up 25% to 30% of white blood cells
An elevated lymphocyte count, known as lymphocytosis, is not a disease, but rather a symptom that warns that the body is under attack by a virus or other diseases
Classification of lymphocytosis
Lymphocytosis can be monoclonal or polyclonal, which is determined when the patient undergoes a hemogram in a blood test. Their significance is explained below:
- Monoclonal lymphocytosis. Usually reflects a proliferative disease where the number of lymphocytes is increased due to an intrinsic defect in the lymphocyte population. Associated conditions include lymphoid tumors and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
- Polyclonal lymphocytosis. It is usually produced as a consequence of an inflammatory or infectious process. Among the diseases that most frequently cause polyclonal lymphocytosis are: whooping cough, hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis and AIDS.
Why do lymphocytes increase?
During the active phases of an infection, lymphocytes are elevated because they fight against viruses and bacteria. This can be seen in the percentage of lymphocytes in the total number of white blood cells, when it is above 40%, although it is best to analyze the absolute values of lymphocytes.
The most common causes of lymphocytosis are:
- Virus infections. The presence of swollen lymph nodes and fatigue points to mononucleosis or cytomegalovirus infection in people under 40 years of age. In young children it may be due to mumps, measles, chickenpox or other childhood viral infections.
- Bacterial infections. As with whooping cough, brucellosis and syphilis.
- Leukemia. If there is anemia, thrombocytopenia or neutropenia, especially in people over 55 years of age, it may indicate a malignant process such as lymphocytic leukemia
- Carl Smith syndrome. This rare disease, also called acute infectious lymphocytosis, may present with very high lymphocyte counts.
- Habits. Intense exercise, stress and smoking can cause an increase in lymphocytes in the blood.
- Use of medications. The use of some medications such as: anti-asthmatics, antibiotics, antiepileptics, antifungals, antipsychotics and antituberculosis, can raise the levels of lymphocytes.
Symptoms of lymphocytosis
A high lymphocyte count is usually discovered when the physician orders a blood test to diagnose a disease.
Lymphocytosis is a sign of certain diseases, which may be accompanied by some clinical manifestations, the most frequent of which are these:
- Exaggerated fatigue
- Weakness and dizziness
- High or moderate fever
- Weight loss
- Abnormal bleeding
what are the risk factors for high lymphocytes?
A Cleveland Clinic publication suggests that lymphocytosis is especially prevalent in people who have had the following health conditions:
- Recent viral infection.
- Serious medical illness.
- Spleen removal operation.
- Reaction to a new medication.
- Certain types of cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma.
- Medical condition that causes inflammation, such as arthritis.
Diagnosis of lymphocytosis
Once the hemogram denotes a possible leukocytosis, it is necessary to distinguish its cause, whether it is due to viral infection or to a malignant process. To this end, it is important to perform a peripheral blood smear to see the morphology and size of the white blood cells
With this it is possible to observe lymphocytes caused by diseases such as cytomegalovirus, mononucleosis, toxoplasmosis, brucellosis, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis or malaria, to mention a few conditions, which must be differentiated with the performance of other serological tests.
It can be complemented with a complete examination looking for symptoms of lymphadenomegaly, splenomegaly and hepatomegaly. Imaging tests, such as X-rays and ultrasound, are useful to detect infectious or tumor pathologies
Treatment for high lymphocytes
In the hemogram this alteration will be observed if the lymphocyte values exceed 40% of the total white blood cells, however, health professionals will always be the ones to evaluate each case and make the relevant diagnosis, indicating the most appropriate treatment.
When high lymphocytes are caused by a viral process, they tend to normalize when it ends, which can last from 7 to 10 days.
Since the increase of lymphocytes in the blood is usually due to some type of viral or bacterial infection, the best measure to decrease them is to solve the infection that is producing them.
Once the cause of the lymphocytosis has been established, the physician will usually administer antiviral drugs, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs. In the presence of oncological diseases, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or bone marrow transplantation may be recommended.
What other measures help to lower blood lymphocyte levels?
In order to lower high lymphocytes , it is necessary to make some changes in daily life, such as:
- Having a balanced and nutritious diet where vegetables and healthy proteins, minerals and vitamin C abound, and at the same time reducing processed foods or those that are too fatty.
- Ensure good hydration
- Reduce alcohol and eliminate tobacco.
- Lead a more relaxed and calm life
- Regular physical activity.
Lymphocytes are part of the amazing immune system and are elevated to deal with infections or other diseases, which is evidenced in a hemogram, and should be a warning sign to seek medical attention.