Do You Have Low Lymphocytes? Here What It Means

Lymphocytes are blood cells produced by bone marrow. Their main objective is to protect you from infections. Low lymphocytes count is also called lymphocytopenia. This is a disorder characterized by abnormally low level of these blood cells. It can increase the risk of infection or serve as a symptom of serious health conditions.

Lymphycytopenia: Basic Facts

Normal count of lymphocytes for an adult is somewhere between 1000 and 4800. Children have more of these cells in their blood, so for them, the normal number is between 3000 and 9500.

There are three types of lymphocytes in your blood:

  • B lymphocytes
  • T lymphocytes
  • Natural Killer (NK) cells

The lower your lymphocytes count, the higher your chances of developing an infection. This disorder lowers natural defenses of your body. This symptom must not be ignored as it shows how vulnerable you are at the moment. If your blood test shows lower than normal count of lymphocytes, your most important objective is to determine what causes this problem. Lymphocytopenia cannot be cured without treating the condition that causes it and strengthening your immune system.

This condition can vary in severity. Mild cases usually don’t require treatment as the problem will be resolved in a few days after the cause of it is cured and your body can build its strength back. However, severe lymphocythopenia is a serious problem that must be treated by medication.

Causes of Low Lymphocytes Count

Lymphocytopenia can occur due to a variety of reasons. The vast majority of them aren’t particularly dangerous and can be cured quickly. However, there are some conditions that are fatal.

It’s imperative to go through a full health checkup if your regular blood test shows that your lymphocytes count is too low. Some of the most dangerous diseases that can cause this change have very few symptoms and may not be noticed until it’s too late to do anything about them.

In general, the causes are divided in two major groups: inherited and acquired.

Inherited causes are:

  • DiGeorge anomaly
  • Ataxia telangiectasia
  • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
  • Severe combined immunodeficiency disorder

Acquired causes are:

  • Steroid therapy
  • Blood cancer
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Chemotherapy and radiation used as treatment for cancer
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • AIDS and HIV
  • Infections (either bacterial or fungal)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Typhoid fever
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Blood cancer

Your doctor needs to understand what exactly happened to your lymphocytes and the causes of such a low count of these cells. Different diseases affect them in different ways:

  • Prevent your body from producing enough lymphocytes.
  • The cells get stuck in your lymph nodes or spleen and therefore, a sufficient amount of them cannot find their way into your bloodstream.
  • Your body produces enough lymphocytes, but they get destroyed by infection or your own immune system.


There is one very important thing that you need to understand. Infections can cause lymphycytopenia, but it can also work the other way round. When this condition is severe, it may not disappear after the original cause is treated. Instead, the low count of lymphocytes will continue to weaken your immunity, which will make you even more vulnerable to bacteria. This can make you develop another infection. If this situation occurs, treating the next disease will be much more difficult as the natural protections of your body will be stretched thin.

In this case, if the problem is resolved, this cycle will continue and your health will deteriorate to a point where you might develop a fatal disease. Therefore, it’s imperative to monitor your lymphocytes count after you recover from the original infection. This way, you will be able to make sure that your body recovers properly.

The only way to cure lymphocythopenia that exists today is through treating the condition that causes it and taking steps to strengthen your immunity. If you are successful with achieving these two goals, the number of lymphocytes produced by your body will eventually return to normal.

However, as some of the underlying conditions of this disorder cannot be cured (for example, AIDS), researchers are currently looking for ways to boost lymphocytes production. These studies focus on different ideas, but none of them have managed to produce a cure for the condition yet.