What Could Cause Low Lymphocytes? 14 Possible Triggers (List)

Steroid Therapy

The most common causes of low lymphocytes are infections and stress. Sometimes, a physician will prescribe steroids to stimulate the immune system. Unfortunately, steroids have been shown to hurt T-cell production and can reduce the number of lymphocytes in a person’s body. Steroids can be prescribed to treat inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and asthma, some cancers, and other conditions.

A study published in the journal Cancer Research in 2009 found that women who took prednisone for more than 30 days were at an increased risk of developing lymphoma. The study involved 1,293,000 people from Denmark and Sweden diagnosed with cancer between 1971 and 2004. In addition to lymphoma, prednisone use was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.

A patient on steroids may experience symptoms such as a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, weight loss or gain, muscle weakness, joint pain or stiffness, skin problems such as acne or rashes, and decreased resistance to infections. If a patient is experiencing these symptoms for more than two weeks after starting steroid therapy, talk with a physician about adjusting the dose or changing the medication entirely.