Your Lymphocyte Count

What Causes Abnormal Lymphocyte Count?

Abnormal lymphocyte count can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose abnormal lymphocyte count, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "abnormal lymphocyte count" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Whooping Cough
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Sepsis
  • Herpes Simplex Type I
  • Chickenpox
  • Infectious Mononucleosis
  • CLL Leukemia

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
having a high fever
frequent unexplained fevers
numb/burning/tingling extremities
having HIV/AIDS
resolved atypical recent headaches
multiple painful cervical nodes
herpes type II
postauricular node problems
poor bodily coordination
African ethnicity
possible enlarged liver
cold sores
... and more than 40 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of abnormal lymphocyte count:
Cause Probability Status
HIV/AIDS 96% Confirm
Sepsis 26% Unlikely
CLL Leukemia 19% Unlikely
Whooping Cough 2% Ruled out
Infectious Mononucleosis 0% Ruled out
Chickenpox 0% Ruled out
Guillain-Barre Syndrome 0% Ruled out
Herpes Simplex Type I 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having had recent lab tests, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
White Blood Cells - Lymphocyte Percentage [fraction]
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ Under 20% [0.20] (low)
→ 20 to 45% [0.20-0.45] (normal)
→ 46 to 55% [0.46-0.55] (elevated)
→ Over 55% [0.55] (high)
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate low lymphocyte count, normal lymphocyte count, elevated lymphocyte count or highly elevated lymphocyte count, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
(Prescription) Drug Side-Effects

Certain drugs, such as mephenytoin, dilantin and para-aminosalicylic acid, can cause an increased lymphocyte count.  Certain drugs, such as steroids and chemotherapy drugs, can cause a decreased lymphocyte count.  Levels should return to normal after stopping treatment.

Bone Marrow Suppression

Lymphocytes are made in the bone marrow, so when the bone marrow isn't functioning properly, lymphocyte counts can drop.

Myasthenia Gravis

A study investigated the transformation of peripheral blood lymphocytes from patients with Myasthenia Gravis.  The researchers found a decreased mitogen responsiveness of lymphocytes, suggesting that part of the lymphocyte function is subnormal in Myasthenia Gravis. [J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1979 Aug; 42(8): pp.734-40]

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Autoimmune problems such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause reduced lymphocyte counts.

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

A complete blood count may show large numbers of lymphocytes in a pertussis patient.

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
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