New Health Guide

What Causes Lymphocyte Count High?

Nov 22, 2017

Lymphocytes are a kind of white blood cell the immune system produces to fight disease; therefore it is normal to have a temporary increase of lymphocytes in the body after an infection. One microliter of blood containing over 3,000 lymphocytes can be classified as a high lymphocyte count. In some cases this can indicate certain types of diseases, such as cancer and autoimmune disorders. There is no treatment for this specific symptom and the ideal management relies on treating the underlying cause.

Causes of High Lymphocyte Count

image001It is possible to have a high lymphocyte count without experiencing any symptoms and a doctor will have to determine the cause of the problem and whether it is serious or harmless. Common reasons for a high lymphocyte count include infections, autoimmune disorders that cause chronic inflammation and cancer of the lymphatic system or blood. Some specific illnesses include whooping cough, vasculitis, tuberculosis, viral infections, multiple myeloma, mononucleosis, HIV/AIDS, cytomegalovirus infection, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia, according to mayoclinic.

Whooping Cough or Flu

Both whooping cough and flu are respiratory illnesses which can increase the lymphocyte count. Whooping cough or pertussis involves severe coughing which is accompanied by a whooping noise. Cough medications do not usually help and treatment is prescription antibiotics while the illness can be prevented with vaccinations. Flu can lead to respiratory distress, fever and fatigue and in some extreme cases may be deadly. The usual treatment is rest and increasing intake of fluids but in some cases prescription antiviral medications are necessary.

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Acute lymphocytic leukemia, abbreviated as ALL, is a cancer of bone marrow (the spongy tissue found in the bones which is where the body produces blood cells) and blood. This disease is considered “acute” because it produces immature blood cells and progresses quickly. In addition to the high lymphocyte count, other symptoms include swollen lymph nodes that lead to lumps, frequent nosebleeds or infections, fever, bone pain and bleeding gums. This is the most frequently diagnosed cancer for children and in most cases the treatments can lead to a strong chance of a cure.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Like ALL, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, abbreviated as CLL, is a cancer of bone marrow and blood. It is referred to as chronic because it progresses slower than most other variations of leukemia. As with ALL, the word “lymphocytic” in CLL refers to the fact that the lymphocytes are the white blood cells this disease affects. Typical symptoms include weight loss, lymph nodes that are enlarged but painless, fatigue and frequent infections. CLL affects older adults most frequently and treatments are able to help with control of the disease.


Mononucleosis, or mono for short, is known as the “kissing disease” because it can be passed by kissing. In reality, it can be transmitted through any contact with saliva including coughing and sneezing or sharing a cup or utensil. Despite this, it is not as infectious as certain infections like the common cold. It is more common in adolescents and young adults while children rarely experience many of the symptoms, which leads it to remain unnoticed. Adequate fluid intake and rest are the best treatments and it is important to pay attention to avoid complications such as enlarging of the spleen.


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is actually fairly common and can affect most people as it spreads via body fluids including breast milk, semen, urine, saliva and blood. Although the infection will last for life, people rarely show symptoms or are affected by CMV. There is an increased risk of becoming sick from it, however, for people who have weakened immune systems or pregnant. Although there is no cure, there are medications that those with a weak immune system as well as newborns.


AIDS is a chronic and life-threatening condition that is the result of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). HIV damages the immune system and therefore makes it harder for your body to fight disease. It is sexually transmitted but can also be spread during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding or by coming in contact with infected blood. Although there is no cure for these diseases, it may take many years before HIV causes AIDS to develop and there are medications that can slow down the disease. Although these medications have helped significantly in developed nations, HIV is still a huge problem in parts of Asia, Haiti and Africa.


Vasculitis or arteritis/angiitis is when the blood vessels become inflamed and it can cause the walls of the blood vessels to change such as scarring, narrowing, weakening or thickening. While some types of vasculitis are acute and only last for a short time, others are chronic and long lasting. In some cases it is severe enough where it blocks blood flow to the organs and tissues that are supplied by the vessels affected. In these cases, it can lead to tissue and organ damage and in some cases death. Although vasculitis can happen to anyone, certain groups have an increased risk of some kinds. While certain forms don’t require treatment others require extended use of medication.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that affects the plasma cells which are a kind of white blood cell that is found in bone marrow that is responsible for producing antibodies to fight infections. In people with multiple myeloma, a group of these myeloma cells becomes cancerous, multiplying and increasing the plasma levels to unusually high levels. This in turn leads to an increased level of abnormal proteins such as antibodies that are produced by plasma cells. Some people will not experience symptoms at first while others can experience a change in their red blood cell count, kidneys, immune system or bones. There are medications available to help control the disease.

Other Causes

Hepatitis is the inflammation of your liver and can have symptoms including abdominal swelling or pain, fatigue and yellowing of eyes and skin. It can be treated using prescription medications, lifestyle changes and surgical intervention. Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease which causes the digestive tract to become chronically inflamed. Additional symptoms include weight loss, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Treatment options are sometimes complicated and can involve a combination of medications, both prescription and over the counter, nutritional therapy and/or surgery.