Splenomegaly : How To Check If You Have Splenomegaly ?676
Your spleen is situated just below your left rib cage. There are several diseases that can cause an enlarged spleen, including infections, liver disease, and some forms of cancer. Splenomegaly is another name for an enlarged spleen.
Symptoms of splenic enlargement are uncommon. Oftentimes, it is discovered during a routine physical checkup. Adults' spleens are frequently not palpable unless they are big. Imaging and blood tests may help in determining the cause of an enlarged spleen.
The type of therapy depends on what is causing the enlarged spleen. Surgery to remove an enlarged spleen is often not necessary, but it may rarely be.
An enlarged spleen is called splenomegaly. Anaemia, a reduction in blood flow and filtration, and gastrointestinal pain can all result from this. Taking preventative measures and visiting a doctor are required since it may even result in a burst spleen.
A component of your lymphatic system is the spleen. Preserving white blood cells and assisting in the production of antibodies, supports the immune system.
Under your rib cage, on the left side of your body, is where you will find this organ. It is accountable for:
- Removing germs using antibody coating
- Processing previously used red blood cells
- Iron recycling in haemoglobin
Due to the fact that it produces both B cells and T cells, the spleen is vital to your body's ability to fight against infection. Your body is protected against germs by white blood cells.
The spleen is typically approximately the size of your fist, however, it can grow considerably larger when swollen.
Numerous diseases and infections can result in an enlarged spleen. The expansion may only last a short time, depending on the treatment. Among the contributing elements are:
- Viral illnesses, including mononucleosis
- Bacterial infections, such as syphilis or endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart
- Parasitic diseases like malaria
- Cirrhosis and other liver-related illnesses
- Different forms of hemolytic anaemia, which is characterised by the early breakdown of red blood cells
- Leukaemia, myeloproliferative neoplasms, and lymphomas like Hodgkin's disease are examples of blood malignancies.
- Metabolic disorders such as Gaucher and Niemann-Pick illnesses
- The pressure in the splenic or hepatic veins, or a blood clot in these veins
- Autoimmune diseases like lupus and sarcoidosis
Your spleen is hidden under a rib cage on the left side of your belly, near to your stomach. Generally speaking, your height, weight, and sex all affect how big it is.
This adaptable, versatile organ performs a number of essential tasks, such as:
- Removing and eliminating damaged, ageing blood cells
- Generating white blood cells (lymphocytes), which serve as the first line of defence against disease-causing pathogens, and preventing infection.
- Preserving the red blood cells and platelets necessary for blood coagulation
These professions are all impacted by an enlarged spleen. If your spleen is big, it could not operate normally.
How to check if you have Splenomegaly?
Get medical help right away if you feel pain in your left upper abdomen, especially if it is severe or gets worse when you take deep breaths.
Some individuals who have an enlarged spleen do not exhibit any symptoms, and the problem is only identified during a normal medical examination. You might be able to feel your larger spleen through your skin if you are really thin.
Pain or discomfort in the upper left side of the abdomen, where the spleen is situated, is a typical sign of an enlarged spleen.
Additionally, even with a tiny amount of food, you could feel full. This occurs when the spleen enlarges to the point that it pushes against the stomach.
Blood flow to the spleen may start to be affected if your spleen begins to squeeze against other organs. Your spleen could be unable to function as a result.
Make sure your blood is filtered.
Your spleen may start to eliminate too many red blood cells from your blood if it grows too large. Anemia is a disease that develops when there are not enough red blood cells in the body.
You may also get infections more frequently if your enlarged spleen is unable to produce enough white blood cells.
Anyone can develop an enlarged spleen at any age, however several groups are more prone, including:
- Infections that affect children and teenagers, such mononucleosis
- Gaucher disease, Niemann-Pick disease, and several other genetic metabolic disorders all have an impact on the liver and spleen.
- Those who live in or go to areas where malaria is common
Usually, an enlarged spleen does not show any symptoms, but occasionally, it can show the following:
- Pain or heaviness in the left upper tummy that might extend to the left shoulder
- You may feel full even after eating a small amount or not at all due to the spleen pressing against your stomach.
- (Anaemia) A lack of red blood cells
- Many infections
The cause of an enlarged spleen is the main focus of treatment. For instance, if you have a bacterial ailment, antibiotics may be used as treatment.
If you have an enlarged spleen but no symptoms and the cause cannot be identified, your doctor may suggest careful waiting. You should make a follow-up visit with your doctor within six to twelve months if you encounter symptoms.
Surgery to remove the spleen
If the cause of an enlarged spleen cannot be identified or treated, splenectomy surgery may be a possibility. Surgery may provide the best opportunity for recovery from serious or persistent diseases.
Careful thinking is required before elective splenectomy. Although it is possible to live a full life without a spleen, you are more likely to suffer severe, even fatal infections following splenectomy.
The following steps can assist in reducing your risk of infection after splenectomy:
- A series of vaccinations are required both before and after the splenectomy. These include the immunisations against meningitis, pneumonia, and infections of the blood, bones, and joints for meningococcal, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and pneumococcal (Pneumovax 23).
- After surgery, you will also require the pneumococcal vaccination every five years.
- Following surgery and each time you or your doctor suspect an infection take penicillin or other medications.
- Contact your doctor as soon as you notice a fever, which might be an indication of an illness.
- Avoiding trips to locations where certain illnesses, including malaria, are prevalent.
To lower the chance of a burst spleen, stay away from contact sports like football, and hockey and restrict other activities as directed.
Also crucial is the use of a seat belt. A seat belt can help protect your spleen in a vehicle collision.
Finally, due to the increased risk of infection, make sure to maintain your immunisation records. That requires at least a yearly flu vaccination and a booster dose of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis every ten years. If you require more vaccinations, ask your doctor.
Complications of Splenomegaly
The following issues might arise from an enlarged spleen:
Infection. A larger spleen may cause your circulation to have less healthy red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells, which might lead to more frequent infections. Anaemia and rapid bleeding are other potential outcomes.
Damaged spleen. Even in good health, spleens are often injured, especially in car accidents. There is a noticeably larger risk of rupture when your spleen is large. Having a ruptured spleen can cause potentially fatal abdominal bleeding.
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Page last reviewed: Apr 27, 2023
Next review due: Apr 27, 2025