Lymphopenia What is Lymphopenia?


woman wearing a mask talking to a doctorLymphopenia (also called lymphocytopenia) is a disorder in which your blood doesn’t have enough white blood cells called lymphocytes.

These cells are made in the bone marrow along with other kinds of blood cells. Lymphocytes help protect your body from infection. Low numbers of lymphocytes can raise your risk of infection.

About 20% to 40% of all white blood cells are lymphocytes. A normal lymphocyte count for adults usually is between 1,000 and 4,800 lymphocytes per microliter of blood. For children, a normal lymphocyte count usually is between 3,000 and 9,500 lymphocytes per microliter of blood.

The term "lymphopenia" refers to a count of less than 1,000 lymphocytes per microliter of blood in adults, or less than 3,000 lymphocytes per microliter of blood in children.

The three types of lymphocytes are B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes, and natural killer cells. All of these cells help protect the body from infection. Most people who have lymphopenia have low numbers of T lymphocytes. Sometimes they also have low numbers of the other types of lymphocytes.

Certain factors can cause a low lymphocyte count, such as:

  • The body doesn't make enough lymphocytes.
  • The body makes enough lymphocytes, but they’re destroyed.
  • The lymphocytes get trapped in the spleen or lymph nodes. Lymphocytes normally pass through these organs into the blood.
  • A combination of the above factors.

Lymphopenia can range from mild to severe. The condition alone may not cause any symptoms.

How long lymphopenia lasts depends on its cause. The treatment for this condition depends on its cause and severity. Mild lymphopenia may not require treatment. If an underlying condition is successfully treated, lymphopenia will likely improve.

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