Spleen is located on the left side of the stomach well beneath the rib cage. It is a small soft organ performing several functions for your body. Spleen roughly measures the size of your fist but when it gets enlarged it can grow up in size pressing the stomach and liver.
Functions of Spleen :
Spleen is responsible for eliminating the dead blood cells. Its role is to produce white blood cells which plays major role in fighting bacteria and virus. Whenever there is infection in the body these white blood cells are produced in excess by the spleen.
Spleen acts as a warehouse for storing red blood cells and platelets which is responsible for clotting of blood.
When the spleen gets enlarged it may not be able to carry out these functions properly. When the abnormal dead red blood cells cannot be filtered it enters into the bloodstream causing potential health hazard. When it fails to release red blood cells and platelets it can eventually get clogged up in the spleen making it enlarged. This in turn can damage other vital organs in the neighborhood.
It will not produce any symptoms if the spleen becomes enlarged. Often, it is found only during routine examination in many people. For some people there may be bloating sensation or fullness of the stomach and pain in the left abdomen radiating towards left shoulder. There may be frequent gas problem and the person may feel full after eating small amount of food.
Other signs of enlarged spleen include fatigue, bleeding while passing stool and frequent stomach infections.
Often infection and diseases are the main cause for enlargement of spleen. Viral infections like mononucleosis, bacterial infections like syphilis or endocarditis, parasitic infections like malaria can affect your spleen.
Any problems with the liver like cirrhosis can affect and damage the spleen. If the person is anemic or experiencing hemolytic anemic condition then he may have enlarged spleen.
Other disorders like blood cancer like leukemia, Gaucher’s disease, Hodgkin’s disease and Niemann Pick disease can cause this problem. Repeated pressure on the liver can affect the spleen and sometimes spleen gets affected when there is blood clot in the veins.
Who are at risk?
Children with lowered immunity and those suffering from infectious diseases like mononucleosis are prone for spleen enlargement. People with inherited blood disorders and genetic metabolic disorders can get this condition.
Malaria can affect the functions of spleen causing inflammation. People who are frequently traveling to malaria prone area are under the risk of getting enlarged spleen.
When spleen gets enlarged it will eventually reduce the healthy red blood cells which make you prone to anemia and infections. In rare cases, the spleen may rupture inside causing serious consequences.
Your doctor may detect this condition during routine physical examination. He may order for blood test, CT scan, or MRI for diagnosing the intensity of problem.
For some people liver function tests along with bone marrow test is conducted. Biopsy of bone marrow is done for examining the liquid present in the marrow.
Enlarged spleen can be surgically removed by the process of splenectomy in chronic cases and no other options are available to cure. That does not mean all persons having enlarged spleen have to be operated.
Your doctor will have to identify the right cause for the problem before starting the treatment. Antibiotics are given for long time for curing inflammation. Sometimes chemotherapy is given for reducing the size of the spleen.
A person can continue to live healthy even after the removal of spleen but he is prone to infectious diseases. For people with hereditary spherocytosis, anemia can be prevented by splenectomy.
The surgical process will start only after taking vaccinations for protecting the patient against many infectious diseases.
Pictures of Enlarged Spleen :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Enlarged Spleen
Limit your activities and do not indulge in active sports like hockey or football. You need to wear a seat belt whenever you are traveling by car. You need to vaccinate yourself for preventing any infections.