Enlarged spleen: symptoms, causes and treatment

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Unlike other organs of our body that we tend to be more present, such as in the case of liver or kidney, the spleen is likely to become one of the most “forgotten”. In fact, we do not usually remember it’s there until there is any condition or health disorder that affects it. But although in general it usually does not cause problems, if we take into account what diseases or problems can influence its state. Moreover, one of the most common and usual is the inflammation of the spleen, which is medically known by the name of splenomegaly.

enlarged spleen

The spleen is an organ which is part of our lymphatic system. It is having an approximate size similar to the fist of one hand, and found on the left side, just below the ribs and above the stomach.

Among the main functions of the spleen we can mention its high content of white blood cells that fight against germs. In fact, as we indicated above, is part of the lymphatic system, as surely you know combat infections, while maintaining the balance of fluids in our body. In addition, it destroyed those damaged or aged cells; it helps control the amount of blood in our body and keeps both red blood cells and the healthy platelets.

What are the symptoms of enlarged spleen
Basically there are three signs that may indicate the presence of inflammation of the spleen, so in reality we are faced with a disorder that is not as easy to diagnose.

For example, we can feel some disability when eaten in large quantities, so we tend to fill more quickly and even with little food. That is, we satiated quickly, even when we eat small amounts of food.

We may feel pain that is situated in the upper left side of the abdomen, there are other problems that may affect its appearance, as is the case of pancreatitis, diverticulosis and diverticulitis and kidney stones. Among the reasons that appear abdominal pain not only because of the swelling itself, but the spleen tends to stretch as a result of inflammation. This pain tends to worsen when performing a deep breath, and may radiate to the left shoulder.

The hiccup is another usual signs of inflammation of the spleen, especially if it appears at any time, suddenly and often repeated several times in a single day.

Since the spleen is part of the lymphatic system and is responsible for filtering the blood and maintaining adequate levels in platelets and red and white blood cells, when the spleen is swollen may arise anemia caused by a lack of red blood cells. In turn, it may appear fatigue due to anemia.

The causes of enlarged spleen
There are several reasons that can cause the spleen to swell. The most common are:

  • Infections: Bacterial infections, cat-scratch disease, infectious mononucleosis (whether by the Epstein-Barr virus or cytomegalovirus), parasitic infections or other viral infections.
  • Liver disease: Cirrhosis, portal vein obstruction, cystic fibrosis or sclerosing cholangitis.
  • Blood diseases: Hemoglobinopathies, hemolytic anemias.
  • Cancer: Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, lymphomas.
  • Other diseases: Systemic lupus erythematosus, sarcoidosis and sickle cell splenic crisis.

Treatment of enlarged spleen
Clearly, the treatment of enlarged spleen is related to the cause that has caused such swelling but should establish a prompt medical treatment since an enlarged spleen can lead to chronic infection. In fact, long term, if it emerges infection can lead to the removal of the spleen.

For example, if the cause of inflammation is an infection the antibiotic may be useful for the treatment of disease. Whereas if the cause of the enlarged spleen is due to Hodgkin’s disease or leukemia, medical treatment to follow is radiotherapy or chemotherapy.