What is atypical lymphocytosis?

Atypical lymphocytosis occurs when lymphocytes, specific types of white blood cells, respond to antigen exposure. Lymphocytes often become atypical in response to bacterial or viral infection. They can also become atypical due to heavy invasion by other antigens, such as allergens or fungi.

Lymphocytosis is the term used to describe when white blood cells, particularly lymphocytes, are elevated. Each type of white blood cell has a different role in helping the immune system fight off antigens. T-cell lymphocytes trigger the production of antibodies. B-cell lymphocytes detect the presence of antigens and stimulate other white blood cells in response.

Although problems such as cancer or sexually transmitted diseases cause an increase in white blood cells, they are not usually responsible for creating atypical lymphocytosis. An increase in lymphocytes occurs directly in response to exposure to antigens in the body. The term is just another way of describing the normal functions of the immune system.

Atypical lymphocytosis is most commonly attributed to viral and bacterial diseases. It can also be the result of some types of autoimmune disorders. Vaccines, drug reactions, and radiation or chemotherapy treatments can also cause elevated lymphocytes to become atypical.

A person of any age can develop atypical lymphocytosis, but there are some people who are more susceptible than others. Children under two years of age do not have a developed immune system. Adults with connective tissue diseases or weakened immune systems may have an increase in atypical lymphocytes. Patients with acute or chronic leukemia may also have increases in atypical lymphocytes.

To determine the presence of atypical lymphocytosis, doctors perform standard blood tests. The lymphocyte count in the sample should be high. Once the increase is discovered, a peripheral blood smear is performed. A drop of blood is spread on a glass slide. The sample is dried, stained with a dye, and then dried again. Atypical lymphocytes stain a darker blue than regular lymphocytes.

Treatments for atypical lymphocytosis will vary. The appropriate treatment will depend on the cause of the increased lymphocytes. If underlying conditions are the cause, they should be treated. For common causes, such as viral or bacterial invasions, antibiotics can help bring the cell count down to normal levels.

Prescription medications are common, highly effective treatments, but they are only part of the treatment plan. Vitamin supplements, particularly vitamins B and C, may also be beneficial. Vitamins can help the efforts of the immune system. The increase in healthy foods is an additional option.

Go up