What causes a low white blood count and a low lymphocyte absolute count?


Quick Answer

According to the Mayo Clinic, a low white blood cell count usually is the result of a medical condition that disrupts the function of the bone marrow or destroys white blood cells. These include infections, congenital disorders, certain cancers, cancer therapies and certain drugs. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that are counted in the total white blood count.

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What causes a low white blood count and a low lymphocyte absolute count?
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Full Answer

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute explains that lymphocytes are manufactured in the bone marrow along with other types of blood cells and make up about 20 to 40 percent of the total white blood count in healthy adults. Circulating lymphocytes are sometimes trapped in the lymph nodes or the spleen, causing a low lymphocyte count. Their numbers also are affected by the same factors that influence the total white blood count, such as autoimmune disorders (diseases that cause the body's immune system to attack normal body cells), infections, some cancers, and cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and typhoid fever are examples of infections that lower the lymphocyte count.

A low lymphocyte or white blood cell count increases a person's risk of infection. The NHLBI advises people who have this condition to stay away from people who are sick, avoid foods that potentially are contaminated with bacteria and practice good oral hygiene. Regular hand-washing is important in reducing risk of infection, as well.

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