What causes a low lymphocyte count?

There are several possible causes for a low lymphocyte count, including disease processes and the use of certain medications. Infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and some forms of cancer frequently lead to this symptom. The use of steroid medications is sometimes responsible for the development of a low lymphocyte count. Treatment focuses on proper medical management of the underlying cause of the low lymphocyte count. Any specific questions about an individual's experience with a low lymphocyte count should be discussed with a physician or other medical professional.

In many cases, a low lymphocyte count is due to the presence of an infectious disease. Some of the specific diseases known to lead to this symptom include AIDS, tuberculosis, and viral hepatitis. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, more commonly known as AIDS, is a serious complication of a virus known as HIV that causes destruction of the patient's immune system. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs and can be fatal if not treated properly. Viral hepatitis is a form of liver disease that can lead to liver cancer, especially if left untreated.

A variety of autoimmune disorders can cause low lymphocyte counts, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Lupus causes inflammation in various organs of the body and can be fatal in the most severe cases. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that destroys the protective covering of nerves and can cause varying degrees of physical disability. Rheumatoid arthritis leads to chronic joint inflammation and can cause joint pain and deformities.

Cancer, especially forms of cancer that affect the blood, are possible causes of a low lymphocyte count. Leukemia and lymphoma are commonly associated with this symptom. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the standard treatment options for these cancers, and the treatments themselves can cause the lymphocyte count to drop even further. Steroid medications are used to treat various types of inflammatory conditions and can cause a temporary decrease in the number of lymphocytes in the blood.

Most cases involving a low lymphocyte count are not serious and can be successfully treated with antibiotics or other medications. Simple blood tests can detect this condition, often leading to additional tests to determine the underlying cause. In many situations, there are no noticeable symptoms, so regular check-ups with a doctor can help catch potential problems before serious complications develop.

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