Lymphopenia (Low Lymphocytes): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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Lymphopenia (Low Lymphocytes)

A person with lymphopenia (low lymphocytes) has an abnormally low number of lymphocytes in their blood.

White blood cells called lymphocytes play a crucial part in the immune system by assisting the body in warding off illnesses and infections.

In healthy adults, the normal range of lymphocyte count is between 1,000 and 4,800 cells per microliter (mcL) of blood. White blood cells called lymphocytes aid in the fight against infections and aberrant cells.

There are three types of lymphocytes:

  • B cells
  • T cells
  • Natural killer cells

Lymphopenia can increase the risk of infections from various germs and diseases.

Symptoms of Lymphopenia (Low Lymphocytes)

Here are some possible symptoms of lymphopenia:

Recurrent infections: Lymphocytes play an important role in the immune system and help fight infections. When the lymphocyte count is low, the body may be more susceptible to infections, and a person may experience recurrent infections, such as colds, flu and pneumonia.

Fatigue: Due to the body’s inability to properly fight infections and diseases, low lymphocyte counts can result in exhaustion, weakness and a lack of energy.

Fever: There may be a fever because of the body having trouble fighting off infections due to a low lymphocyte count.

Swollen lymph nodes: Lymphocytes are produced in the lymph nodes, and a low lymphocyte count may cause the lymph nodes to swell.

Causes of Lymphopenia (Low Lymphocytes)

Lymphopenia, or low lymphocyte count, can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are some common causes:

Infections: Lymphocyte counts may drop because of viral, bacterial or fungal infections.

For example, HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis are known to cause lymphopenia.

Medications: Certain medications can suppress the immune system and cause a decrease in lymphocyte count. Chemotherapy drugs, immunosuppressants and corticosteroids are examples of medications that can cause lymphopenia.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy can damage the bone marrow, where lymphocytes are produced, and lead to a decrease in lymphocyte count.

Malnutrition: Malnutrition can lead to a decrease in lymphocyte count, as the body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to produce lymphocytes.

Congenital disorders: Some congenital disorders, such as DiGeorge syndrome and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, can cause a decrease in lymphocyte count.

Cancer: Some types of cancer, such as lymphoma and leukemia, can cause a decrease in lymphocyte count.

Treatment of Lymphopenia (Low Lymphocytes)

The treatment of lymphopenia, or low lymphocyte count, depends on the underlying cause. Here are some possible treatments:

Treating infections: If lymphopenia is caused by an infection, treating the infection with appropriate antibiotics, antiviral or antifungal medication may help restore normal lymphocyte count.

Medication adjustment: If a medicine is the cause of lymphopenia, the dosage may need to be changed or an alternative prescription may need to be used.

Immune system support: To boost lymphocyte count and support the immune system, some conditions may be treated with drugs such immune globulin or growth factors.

Nutrition support: If lymphopenia is caused by malnutrition, improving the diet or taking nutritional supplements may be helpful.

Treatment of autoimmune disorders: In cases where lymphopenia is caused by an autoimmune disorder, treatment of the underlying disorder may help increase lymphocyte count.

Bone marrow transplantation: In rare cases where lymphopenia is severe or life-threatening, a bone marrow transplantation may be recommended to replace damaged or defective bone marrow cells.

Risk factors of Lymphopenia

Here are some common risk factors:

Age: As people age, their immune system may weaken, leading to a decrease in lymphocyte count.

Infections: Lymphopenia may be more likely to occur in persons who are frequently exposed to infections, such as healthcare workers or those with compromised immune systems.

Autoimmune disorders: It’s possible that those with autoimmune conditions like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to developing lymphopenia.

Chemotherapy or radiation therapy: Individuals who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer may be more susceptible to developing lymphopenia.

Malnutrition: People who are malnourished or have a nutrient deficiency may be at increased risk of developing lymphopenia.

Certain medications: Some medications, such as immunosuppressants or corticosteroids, can increase the risk of developing lymphopenia.

Medications for Lymphopenia

The following medicines could be used to treat lymphopenia:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be provided to treat the infection and raise the lymphocyte count if a bacterial infection is the cause of lymphopenia.

Antivirals: If lymphopenia is caused by a viral infection, antiviral medications may be prescribed to treat the infection and increase lymphocyte count.

Immunomodulators: Immunomodulators are medications that can help regulate the immune system and increase lymphocyte count. Examples of immunomodulators include interferon and thymosin alpha.

Chemotherapy drugs: Cancer is treated with chemotherapy medicines, which can also lower lymphocyte counts.

It is important to note that the use of medications for lymphopenia should be determined by a healthcare provider, as the appropriate treatment depends on the underlying cause of the condition.

When to see a doctor?

If you have been diagnosed with lymphopenia, it is important to follow the treatment plan developed by your healthcare provider. Additionally, since this may require additional testing or treatment, you should see your doctor if you experience any new symptoms or if your existing ones get worse.

In general, it is important to maintain regular appointments with a healthcare provider to monitor your overall health and to identify any potential underlying conditions that may be associated with lymphopenia.


Lymphopenia (Low Lymphocytes) is a condition that affects the immune system. It occurs when the blood has too few lymphocytes. Lymphopenia can have various causes, such as infections, medications, nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune diseases and cancers.

Some people with lymphopenia may not have any symptoms, while others may experience frequent or severe infections. Lymphopenia can be diagnosed by a blood test that measures the number and types of lymphocytes.


What is the normal range of lymphocytes in the blood?

The normal range of lymphocytes in the blood varies depending on the age and health status of the person. For adults, the normal range is between 1,000 and 4,800 lymphocytes per microliter of blood.

What are the most common causes of lymphopenia?

The most common causes of lymphopenia are infections, medications and nutritional deficiencies. Some examples of infections that can cause lymphopenia are HIV, Influenza, COVID-19, hepatitis, malaria, measles, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

How can I prevent lymphopenia?

The best way to prevent lymphopenia is to avoid or treat the underlying causes that can lower your lymphocyte levels. This may include getting vaccinated against preventable diseases, taking antiviral or antibacterial medications as prescribed by the doctors.

How is lymphopenia treated?

The treatment for lymphopenia depends on the cause and severity of the condition. For example, if lymphopenia is caused by a viral infection, antiviral drugs may help restore the lymphocyte levels.

What are the complications of lymphopenia?

An increased risk of infections and other disorders that might harm numerous organs and bodily systems is the main complication of lymphopenia. People with lymphopenia may experience frequent or severe infections that are hard to treat or clear.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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