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How to know blood results: white blood cells – do you have too much or too much?

Do you know what this means if you have too much or too little lymphocytes in your blood? What circumstances can this cause? What does this mean for you?

After we take blood samples, we wait for the results that doctors read from them. But you can at least partially know them yourself. Here are a series of articles in which your doctor will tell you how to do this.

In blood test results, in addition to leukocyte data (all white blood cells), you can often find information on the number and percentage of lymphocytes (which are a subset of leukocytes). We also talk about white blood cells in the case of lymphocytes.

However, lymphocytes are also not monolithic. Basically, by their function, they are divided into T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes and NK cells. These specialized subgroups have different ways of fighting against microorganisms and damaged cells. These include B-lymphocytes that produce antibodies against specific microbes, T-lymphocytes that directly attack cells infected with the virus, and other T-lymphocytes regulate the immune response so that the immune system does not continue to fight after the infection is cured. T lymphocytes can also produce inflammatory molecules that attract other immune cells to the site of inflammation. NK cells kill hostile elements by lethal injection of substances and kill cells infected with viruses and possibly tumor cells.

Hidden enemies

Lymphocytes are specialists for viruses, while neutrophils (another type of white blood cells) are specialists for bacteria. This is because viruses, unlike most bacteria, are able to "hide" in our cells, and there they make sapphire beautifully hidden away from neutrophils.

However, lymphocytes can detect such hidden enemies and use weapons on them. Of course, as in any battlefield, damage occurs to the environment as well, but destroying the infected cell is necessary to cure the infection or to avoid the threat of cancer.

The normal lymphocyte count is 0.8 – 4.0 x 109 / l. Lymphocytes typically account for 18-44% of leukocytes.

Lymphocytosis – if there are too many lymphocytes

What if you have lymphocytes more than the stated standard conditions? Lymphocytes can increase in many cases and find the reason is in the hands of a doctor who will perform the necessary examinations if necessary.

A common cause of increased lymphocyte counts are viral infections. This is logical given the function of the lymphocytes in our body. Lymphocytosis (too much lymphocyte) is often observed, for example, in infectious mononucleosis or cytomegalovirus infection. This increase is temporary, but usually persists for some time after the infection is over.

Smokers also have more lymphocytes. The reason is the reaction of the body to the intake of harmful substances.

Increasing lymphocytes is also a response to acute stress for the body – surgeries or injuries are typical. Such an increase will usually disappear within 24 hours. It can occur, for example, in myocardial infarction.

Lymphocytes are also elevated in some bacterial diseases. They are caused by bacteria with a strategy similar to that of viruses. They can hide inside the cell, where they try to appear as a natural part of it. Such infections are, for example, cough or tuberculosis.

The number of lymphocytes also increases in the case of leukemia and lymphomas. The problem with these diseases is their uncontrolled multiplication, typically for oncological diseases. With a sustained increase in lymphocytes in the elderly, the diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and other types of blood cell carcinoma should be considered. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is rare in people under 40 years of age. It is sometimes accompanied by enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen or liver. Attention should be directed to night sweats, fatigue and unexplained weakening.

The number of lymphocytes is also increased in the case of autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. Autoimmune diseases are a defect in the immune system – there is inflammation that is harmful to our body and destroys the healthy structures of our body.

Lymphocytes can also be increased only by decreasing neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils – that is, other types of white blood cells.

What if I have too little lymphocytes?

The decreased level of lymphocytes is called lymphopenia. It can occur in viral infection. Such infections can be, for example, influenza or viral hepatitis. A decrease in lymphocyte counts is also typical of AIDS.

In some cases, lymphopenia can be a symptom of sepsis – a bacterial infection, popularly called blood poisoning.

Reduced lymphocyte counts may also occur as a result of bone marrow damage, chemotherapy use after irradiation. Also, various other drugs can cause a decrease in the number of these white blood cells – for example, antiepileptic drugs.

Late stage aplastic anemia or cancer can also cause this condition.

Decreased lymphocyte count also occurs in some neurological diseases – for example multiple sclerosis (multiple sclerosis).

However, too many lymphocytes cause malnutrition or malnutrition around the world. Although malnutrition is more likely in developing countries, do not be misled. Even in the western world there is an increasing shortage of quality proteins, which are crucial for the proper functioning of our body. Malnutrition in relation to protein deficiency often affects older, sick people.

Malnutrition is also associated with a lack of lymphocytes in gastrointestinal disorders. If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease, the absorption of nutrients from the intestine may be impaired. Deficiency of some elements, such as zinc, also causes a decrease in the number of lymphocytes with impaired immune function.

Kidney disease also affects the lymphocyte count. Kidney failure may work this way, but lymphopenia can also be a part of acute kidney failure.

Lymphocyte counts can also be reduced following trauma, surgery, or acute severe illness – for example, heart failure.

Last but not least, lymphocytes have a negative effect on stress and alcohol consumption.

I discovered lymphocyte changes, what can I expect?

If your doctor finds an increase or decrease in your lymphocyte count and you have no symptoms of the disease, the test may be repeated for one or two months. If you have a mild transient symptom, the subscription will also be repeated once these symptoms have disappeared. If the increase is sustained and possibly accompanied by symptoms such as enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver or spleen, weakened immunity, weight loss, etc., you may need a haematological examination.


It is always important to see laboratory results as a diagnostic tool. There are several natural variations in laboratory values ​​among humans. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate blood tests in relation to the patient's general condition, the patient's illnesses, the medications used, the development of results over time and the circumstances in which he is present. For this reason, it is necessary to be evaluated by a physician who collects this information and is able to evaluate it professionally.

This text is informative in nature and by no means substitutes for medical examination or consultation. The health of the individual must be assessed in the context of ancillary diseases, continuous treatment and individual characteristics of the individual.

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