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High lymphocytes: causes, symptoms and treatment

High lymphocytes: causes, symptoms and treatment

May 19, 2024

Our body is a complex organism that interacts with the environment continuously . Despite this complexity, it is extremely delicate, requiring its correct functioning of a balance or homeostasis that different external agents could alter and destroy.

Fortunately, we have a system dedicated to defending ourselves from aggressions of substances coming from outside our organism through their destruction: the immune system, which by means of cells such as lymphocytes acts to signal and destroy elements possibly harmful to our organism. But sometimes the body generates a number of lymphocytes that exceeds normal, the subject having high lymphocytes .

Lymphocytes in the immune system

Lymphocytes are one of the most important cell types of our body, since they allow the body to fight against the possible arrival of bacteria and viruses that can cause an illness. It is a type of white blood cell or leukocyte, forming part of the immune system and circulating through the blood as usual. There are different types, the best known being T, B and NK lymphocytes or natural killers .

Faced with an infection or aggression by agents foreign to the body, these cells proceed to act by binding to the substance that has generated the reaction of the immune system (the so-called antigen) and synthesizing antibodies, so that either destroy or serve as a marker for other cells called phagocytes or some lymphocyte subtypes (such as NK or natural killers) destroy the supposed harmful agent. The lymphocytes can also store the information of said antigens, so that the immune system is allowed to remember and reject more easily any entry in the organism of the same antigen that occurs later.

Although they usually act on harmful foreign cells, they do not need to be pathogenic, being able to observe disproportionate reactions to harmless substances such as allergies, rejection responses to implants or even attacks on healthy cells of the body itself in some disorders in which the Immune system does not act correctly.

Lymphocytosis or the presence of high lymphocytes

Generally we have stable levels of this type of cells, located in the majority of adults between 1500 and 4000 leukocytes per milliliter. However, in different circumstances we can find that these levels of lymphocytes may go off, indicating that the body is acting to try to defend itself against an invading agent. When these levels are above 4000 / ml we can consider that we have high lymphocytes, a situation also called lymphocytosis.

It must be borne in mind that in children the normal values ​​are between 5000 and 7000, so that the existence of high lymphocytes will suppose that these are the levels that are exceeded. In childhood, likewise, lymphocytosis is more common.

Having high lymphocytes does not have necessarily generate symptoms, although usually those that are derived from the cause that cause the body to generate so many lymphocytes will appear. Since it is most common that it is the result of an infection, it is common for them to appear hypothermia, exhaustion, fever, digestive problems such as nausea and vomiting, chills. It is also common the presence of respiratory problems, weight loss, poor concentration and visual and auditory capacity. Also muscle stiffness, runny and swollen tissues.

This increase in lymphocytes, if maintained over time, increases the likelihood that the subject has different types of cancer . It has also been linked to the onset of type 1 diabetes, allergies and asthma.

Causes and types

Having high lymphocytes is not usually a disorder or medical problem per se, but an effect or reaction of the organism to a certain situation. As a general rule, you have high lymphocytes in situations such as autoimmune disorders or, which is the most common reason for this, the presence of viral and / or bacterial infections.

So there are multiple factors that can cause us to have high lymphocytes, but in general we can find two large groups of them. This is what distinguishes between two types of lymphocytosis or high lymphocytes.

1. Monoclonal lymphocytosis

In the first place, there is a monoclonal lymphocytosis, produced by an alteration in the lymph that causes it to generate many more lymphocytes than usual or that does not work correctly. This occurs without an external factor appearing. It is what happens in cancers such as leukemia or other types of related tumors.

In addition to this we can also find, as we have said, autoimmune diseases such as sclerosis, the existence of tumors or the presence of myeloproliferative problems such as leukemia.

two.Polyclonal lymphocytosis

In this case, the lymphocytes are high due to the existence of an infection or the appearance of an external factor that induces a defensive response in the organism. It is the case of infections and allergies.

Among the different infections that may appear, we find infections by viruses such as HIV (although AIDS is reduced to a great extent, during the initial infection there is a certain lymphocytosis that aims to act to eliminate the infection) and other STDs, pertussis or influenza, rubella or herpes. It is also considered as such those situations in which we have high lymphocytes due to stress or intoxications by substances.


If our lymphocyte levels are exaggeratedly high it will be necessary to lower them, and for that we will have to fight the reason why they occur in such quantity. Thus, in the case of infection, antibiotics and antivirals will cause the infectious process to stop and the leukocyte levels to return to normal little by little.

At the pharmacological level, can be applied immunosuppressants such as methotrexate, or steroids such as the widely known glucocorticoids . In case of allergies it is also recommended to avoid the element that causes them and / or to use epinephrine in case of a dangerous reaction to life. If the cause is a cancer such as leukemia, radiotherapy and chemotherapy will also be applied.

Other strategies that can complement the above are the reduction of lymphocytes through diet, hydration and exercise, which will help us to purify our body of harmful agents that may be causing the defensive reaction of our body (although exercise helps generate lymphocytes , can also serve to reduce the causes of being high).

The use of relaxation and meditation methods can also help to resolve those cases in which lymphocytosis has a psychogenic cause, as well as the application of expressive therapies, problem management and stress regulation.

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