What Does An Elevated Lymphocyte Count Mean

What Does An Elevated Lymphocyte Count Mean

When you go through a blood test, you may sometimes hear that you have a high lymphocytes count, this is a common condition after a disease or illness, known as lymphocytosis but it can be a serious problem if it persists. Here at oneHOWTO, we are going to tell you what an elevated lymphocytes count means and every thing you need to do to lower its levels.

What does it mean?

Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that are found in our body and have a very important role to play in our immune system. These help you in fighting against diseases, and remain protected and healthy. If you have recently gone through an infection, disease or illness, then it is common for your body to have a high lymphocytes count, also known as lymphocytosis.

Most commonly, it means that you have a viral infection, but sometimes, it may also mean an autoimmune disorder or a certain form of cancer or Leukemia. Go to section 4 to know about all the possible causes of a high lymphocyte count or lymphocytosis.

How much count is considered as ‘high’?

If you are an adult, and have more than 3000 lymphocytes (<40%) in one micro-liter of blood, then it is already considered a high lymphocyte count, also known as lymphocytosis. You should know that a low lymphocyte count can also entail consequences, so we advise you to check what is the normal range of lymphocyte count,

In children, this threshold may vary with age, but can be as high as 7000 to 9000 lymphocytes in one micro-liter of blood. The exact measurements may even vary from one laboratory to the other.

You should know that there are two types of lymphocytosis:

  1. Monoclonal lymphocytosis: Also known as MBL, the blood test will show a low level of for CLLs (>5000 per micro-liter of blood). Though it is not a genetic disorder, people over 40 years old may have a higher predisposition to it if it has run in the family and increases with age.
  2. Polyclonal lymphocytosis: Also known as PPBL (persistent polyclonal lymphocytosis), will show a stable MBL, which is how it can be told apart from the latter. PPBL does not need to show such a high lymphocyte count as MBL either. Caucasian, young and smoking women are those with a higher risk factor.

How to know if you have an elevated lymphocyte count

Usually, the person having high lymphocyte count, a condition medically termed as Lymphocytosis, shows no physical symptoms. This means that you will never know about it unless you go through a blood test for another reason, and your doctor identifies it alongside. There is no treatment for the condition as well, and it can be managed only by handling the underlying cause.

Once the tests are in, if you have noticed that you have a high lymphocytes count, it is highly important you take the results to your GP so he or she can take further tests to determine the cause.

What causes high lymphocyte count?

If you have been diagnosed with elevated lymphocyte count you should know that there are two types of lymphocytosis or high lymphocyte count: monoclonal and polyclonal, and both have different causes.

Causes of monoclonal, or primary, lymphocytosis

Monoclonal lymphocytosis is a proliferative condition where the number of lymphocytes increases as the result of a lymphoid-related disorder. It is caused by:

  • Lymphoid tumours
  • Prolymphocytic leukaemia (PLL)
  • Hairy cell leukaemia (HCL)
  • Lymphomas with leukaemic expression
  • Large granular lymphocytic leukaemia
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer in which the bone marrow is replaced by the early forms of white blood cells. ALL is a type of leukaemia where large numbers of immature, underdeveloped white blood cells, known as blasts, are produced in the bone marrow. Lymphoblasts, which are immature lymphocytes, are a type of blast present in cases of ALL. CLL is a type of leukaemia that is characterised by the presence of an excess amount of mature lymphocytes. It is the most common type of leukaemia in adults, particularly in the elderly and predominantly affecting males more than females. The most common signs and symptoms are the swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and weight loss.

Causes of polyclonal, or reactive, lymphocytosis

Polyclonal lymphocytosis occurs ahead of an inflammatory or infectious process. It can be caused by:

o Viral infections:

  • mononucleosis syndromes caused by cytomegalovirus
  • hepatitis
  • rubella
  • herpes simplex virus, better known as cold sores and chickenpox
  • adenovirus
  • influenza
  • mumps

o Bacterial infections:

  • toxoplasmosis
  • tuberculosis
  • brucellosis

o Poisoning from certain substances, such as lead, benzene etc.; metabolic disorders, such as diabetic or uremic acidosis; and certain vitamin B12 treatments.

o Acute causes:

  • septic shock
  • acute heart failure
  • surgery
  • drug addiction
  • transfusions

o Chronic causes:

  • smoking
  • removal of the spleen (splenectomy)
  • autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and vasculitis.

if you do have a high lymphocyte count that is due to a bacterial or viral infection, take a look at our article on how to lower high lymphocytes.

When to contact a doctor

Elevated lymphocytes count is found mostly when you are already experiencing a condition, and your doctor has ordered a test to diagnose it. This means that in most cases, lymphocytosis is discovered by chance, and is usually an unexpected detection. When you have your tests in your hand, talk to your doctor about the possible causes and consequences, and discuss the best treatment procedure for your condition.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Does An Elevated Lymphocyte Count Mean, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

  • Talk to your doctor about your high lymphocyte count to learn if it is relevant enough or not.