Blood and its underlying components are sensitive subjects, may it be based on their definition or when speaking of their actual forms. Blood is essential for the body, it is one of the most crucial fluids that keep humans and other living organisms alive and going. Without blood, there will be no life; and problems regarding blood also lead to possible life-threatening complications.
Our blood contains red and white blood cells. Both blood cells have different functions apart from each other. It will be dangerous if one of them gets damaged because they have unique functions that can’t be substituted by other body organs or components.
For example, there is a condition that deals with low counts of a specific white blood cell called lymphocytes. The condition can be called as lymphocytopenia, and we are about to get to know more about how low counts of lymphocyte can affect the body.
What Are Lymphocytes?
White blood cells have a considerably wide variety when it comes to their types, and lymphocytes are one of them. Although there are many types of white blood cells in the body, each of them is unique, and they are all irreplaceable, which means that when one of them gets damaged, there is no way for other white blood cells to make up for its function. It shows how important even the littlest component of the body is, they have their specialties and roles to play; the same applies to lymphocytes.
The main function of white blood cells is their important roles in the body’s immune system. The immune system is where they do almost all of their functions and their specialty in fighting off the harmful substances that plan to cause damage to the body internally. They act like the “first medicine” that does the initial screening and attacking the potential antigens such as viruses, bacteria, and toxins which are the leading causes of most illnesses and diseases that we encounter. Oftentimes when you get a general checkup and the doctor advises you of having a weakened immune system, chances are there is an actual deficiency or a lacking amount of white blood cells in your body. This is how important they are.
The Movement Of Lymphocytes In The Body
Once the cells are produced by the bone marrow and released to the body, they immediately turn into lymphocytes. They have their distinction, which is why they do not need to undergo other processes to be in their final form. Lymphocytes are distributed to the bloodstream like how other red blood and white blood cells work. But not all the produced amounts are directly given to the bloodstream, because they have more work to do by being distributed to the lymphatic system; and this is where most of the proceeds and are mainly used.
The lymphatic system is not completely a major system in the body, but it is considered as a group of organs and tissues that have similar purpose and functions. The organs that belong to the lymphatic system are tonsils, spleen, and especially the lymph nodes that greatly contributes to protecting the body from different kinds of infection.
B Cells And T Cells
Lymphocytes split into B cells and T cells once produced by the bone marrow. As lymphocytes are distributed throughout the body, B cells stay in the bone marrow and get released to the bloodstream, and T cells are the ones distributed to the thymus.
The overall production of the lymphocytes is not divided equally among the two cells: B cells are just 25 percent of the lymphocytes while the majority 75 percent get into the thymus to become T cells.
These cells have different ways of working throughout the body, but they have two specific actions which are:
- Some of them will become effector cells that start functioning once they get to detect a potential harmful antigen within the body. Most of the time they aim to fight against infections that are currently active.
- They will turn into memory cells that stay in the body to familiarize themselves with the usual antigens and infection that the body encounters. This familiarization will help them in their future actions especially when the body gets in contact with the same infections. The healing process will become easier because of these cells since they already know which steps to take by this time.
There are a lot of conditions that lead to lower counts of lymphocytes in the body. First of all, there is a specific term used for this phenomenon which is lymphocytopenia.
If a person encounters lymphocytopenia, it means that they are currently suffering from one of the following:
- The body is not capable of producing the required and adequate amount of lymphocytes.
- Lymphocytes currently produced and should already be functioning within the body are destroyed or damaged, disabling their functionality and efficiency.
- Spleen or lymph nodes problems
There also underlying medical conditions that result in lymphocytopenia. Also, there are greater chances that a person will low lymphocyte counts will acquire other infections of diseases. When it comes to medical conditions that cause low lymphocytes, here are a few examples:
- Lack of specific vitamins and minerals that are essential for the efficient production of lymphocytes
- Viral infections like HIV and AIDS
- Flu caused by the influenza virus
- Some autoimmune diseases such as lupus
- A few cases of cancer that directly affects the production and condition of the lymphocytes; such as lymphoma and lymphocytic anemia
- Using steroids
- Undergoing therapies involving radiation
- There are also certain types of drugs that can cause low lymphocyte counts, the most common ones are those that are used for chemotherapy