Friday, July 1, 2016

Lymphocytopenia

Today I received the results of my blood work from yesterday's oncology visit. The tests indicate my lymphocytes are very low. I was surprised to learn this and pulled out the last blood work I'd had done for comparison. As I was checking the results, I noticed there was a 3 point difference. 3 points might not seem like much but when you're fighting cancer, it's a lot. I've been extremely tired lately and wonder if this might be part of the reason for my fatigue. I'm going to try to keep my exposure to people at a minimum until my next visit to the doctor. Low lymphocytes mean low immunity and I don't need to get sick. 

Here's a little more info: 
Lymphocytes are blood cells produced by bone marrow. Their main objective is to protect you from infections. Low lymphocytes count is also called lymphocytopenia. This is a disorder characterized by abnormally low level of these blood cells. It can increase the risk of infection or serve as a symptom of serious health conditions.
Lymphycytopenia: Basic Facts

Normal count of lymphocytes for an adult is somewhere between 1000 and 4800. Children have more of these cells in their blood, so for them, the normal number is between 3000 and 9500.

There are three types of lymphocytes in your blood:

B lymphocytes
T lymphocytes
Natural Killer (NK) cells

The lower your lymphocytes count, the higher your chances of developing an infection. This disorder lowers natural defenses of your body. This symptom must not be ignored as it shows how vulnerable you are at the moment. If your blood test shows lower than normal count of lymphocytes, your most important objective is to determine what causes this problem. Lymphocytopenia cannot be cured without treating the condition that causes it and strengthening your immune system.

This condition can vary in severity. Mild cases usually don’t require treatment as the problem will be resolved in a few days after the cause of it is cured and your body can build its strength back. However, severe lymphocythopenia is a serious problem that must be treated by medication.
Causes of Low Lymphocytes Count

Lymphocytopenia can occur due to a variety of reasons. The vast majority of them aren’t particularly dangerous and can be cured quickly. However, there are some conditions that are fatal.

It’s imperative to go through a full health checkup if your regular blood test shows that your lymphocytes count is too low. Some of the most dangerous diseases that can cause this change have very few symptoms and may not be noticed until it’s too late to do anything about them.

In general, the causes are divided in two major groups: inherited and acquired.

Inherited causes are:
DiGeorge anomaly
Ataxia telangiectasia
Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
Severe combined immunodeficiency disorder

Acquired causes are:
Steroid therapy
Blood cancer
Hodgkin’s disease
Aplastic anemia
Chemotherapy and radiation used as treatment for cancer
Autoimmune disorders
AIDS and HIV
Infections (either bacterial or fungal)
Tuberculosis
Viral hepatitis
Typhoid fever
Rheumatoid arthritis
Blood cancer

Your doctor needs to understand what exactly happened to your lymphocytes and the causes of such a low count of these cells. Different diseases affect them in different ways:
Prevent your body from producing enough lymphocytes.
The cells get stuck in your lymph nodes or spleen and therefore, a sufficient amount of them cannot find their way into your bloodstream.
Your body produces enough lymphocytes, but they get destroyed by infection or your own immune system.
Treatments

There is one very important thing that you need to understand. Infections can cause lymphycytopenia, but it can also work the other way round. When this condition is severe, it may not disappear after the original cause is treated. Instead, the low count of lymphocytes will continue to weaken your immunity, which will make you even more vulnerable to bacteria. This can make you develop another infection. If this situation occurs, treating the next disease will be much more difficult as the natural protections of your body will be stretched thin.

In this case, if the problem is resolved, this cycle will continue and your health will deteriorate to a point where you might develop a fatal disease. Therefore, it’s imperative to monitor your lymphocytes count after you recover from the original infection. This way, you will be able to make sure that your body recovers properly.

The only way to cure lymphocythopenia that exists today is through treating the condition that causes it and taking steps to strengthen your immunity. If you are successful with achieving these two goals, the number of lymphocytes produced by your body will eventually return to normal.

After the bone scan next week, I guess my oncologist will know a little more about what's going on in my body. In the meantime, I'm going to pump the supplements and do everything I can naturally to boost my immune system. 

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