Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection. Many kinds of lymphocytes are found in everybody, including the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, thymus gland, and bone marrow.
Low lymphocyte levels can result when too few lymphocytes are in the blood or other body parts. Low lymphocyte counts are not always serious. In the United States, they’re most often caused by other infections, autoimmune disorders, or diseases that affect the immune system. The most common cause of low lymphocyte counts is the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes mononucleosis. In addition, low lymphocytes may be a sign of cancer or an autoimmune disorder. However, they can indicate an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.
While people with low lymphocyte counts are not likely to die from the condition, they may be at risk of developing other medical problems. So let us take a closer look at the causes of a low lymphocyte count and what a person can do to prevent it.
Medications, specifically antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs, can cause low lymphocytes. This condition is called drug-induced neutropenia and is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, chills, and shaking. One-third of people who take these medications experience this side effect, usually lasting one to two weeks after stopping the medication. Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and rifampin are the most common antibiotics.
One way to determine if a patient’s medications are causing their low lymphocytes is by talking to a doctor about ways to make the drug tolerable for them. For example, a doctor may prescribe other medications to help ease its effects or reduce the medicine to avoid severe side effects.
If a patient has been diagnosed with low lymphocytes, there are several things they can do to boost them back up. First and foremost, it is to eat a balanced diet that contains all the necessary vitamins and nutrients for proper immune system function.