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July 27, 2006 4:03 PM   Subscribe

My Abs Lymphocytes are out of range. What's that mean to me?

I recently had a series of blood tests. When they returned, I went over them with my doctor, and after his explanations we were generally in agreement that there was nothing to worry about.

However, I recently re-read the tests, and I noticed that there was an entry I had missed before, or that I don't recall going over with my doctor. Specifically, it says:

Abs Lymphocytes 2.9 (H)
Reference range/units: .04-2.5 x(10)3/uL

So - what does that mean? Looks like my Abs Lymphocytes are a little high. What are they, and should I care? Lookin' for Interweb doctors, here. Or random know-it-alls.
posted by Dunwitty to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
As an interweb doctor my reaction is: Whatever...

Seriously, it's not a big deal. Without an elevated white blood cell count (WBC) it's essentially normal. Not so normal as to be in normal range, but normal. Lymphocytes are by and large associated with viral activity however in the setting of otherwise normal white cell counts a number slightly our of reference range doesn't mean much. The significance of this number in isolation is that the lab reference range is a little tight and doesn't allow for whatever normal variant of human physiology you represent.

The usual disclaimers about free medical advise, entertainment purposes, and not a substitute for a doctors care apply here.
posted by shagoth at 4:20 PM on July 27, 2006

Thanks, Doc. WBC was in the middle (7.1, range 3.5-9.9), although RBC was marginally low (4.82, 4.5-6.0). So I'm going to assume I can continue my high risk sexual habits.

Oh god I wish.
posted by Dunwitty at 4:27 PM on July 27, 2006

Abs Lymphocytes = Absolute Lymphocyte count, a measurement (rather than a relative approximation) of the number of lymphocytes present in a prepared blood sample.

An elevation in this can be attributed to a bunch of different things, including viral illnesses and leukemias.

Yours is elevated with the reference range supplied. I've seen higher bounds for the reference range, which would put your measurement in a "normal" range.

By itself, the number means nothing. If you've reviewed the complete set of labs with your physician, I wouldn't sweat things. Of course, I don't know anything about your medical history, and the usual caveats regarding internet medical advice apply.
posted by herrdoktor at 4:27 PM on July 27, 2006

Isn't it funny that we interweb doctors always include the disclaimer?
posted by shagoth at 4:29 PM on July 27, 2006

Indeed! Well, maybe not as funny as sad. CYA! All the time. 24x7. Mostly, tho, to remind folks that the internet is no replacement for a PCP.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:20 PM on July 27, 2006

You have to remember that the way the reference range for a particular test is calculated. Namely, the measurements of the central 95% of the distribution of data (of "healthy adults"). So, by definition, 5% of normal, healthy people will fall outside of the reference range.

That's for each test. Over an entire panel of tests run, each with the same rate of abnormal findings in normal patients, there is a great chance that you will have an abnormal result on one of those tests.

[insert standard internet medical disclaimer]
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 5:47 PM on July 27, 2006

It's freaks like you that drive drove immunology grad students me nuts. <grumble> bloody outliers <grumble>

I have a normal "high" lymphocyte count, too. Typically higher than yours that day.

Nothing to worry about. The levels fluctuate day to day.

If you start feeling excessively tired all-the-time though, get checked again (potential sign of either anaemia or leukaemia), but I wouldn't worry about it.

posted by porpoise at 8:18 PM on July 27, 2006

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