One of the main alterations that can compromise the health of the spleen, that small organ so crucial to the lymphatic system, is its inflammation or enlargement. The term splenomegaly medically knows this condition. This condition is usually the result of some underlying illness or disease that causes inflammation of the spleen, as one more symptom, among many others. For this reason, it is so important to go to the doctor for a safe diagnosis and start the ideal treatment required in each case. This will be the only possible way to avoid that the picture is complicated, and the swelling of this organ can cause chronic infection in the long term. Keep reading this article by FastlyHeal, in which we explain the causes, symptoms, and treatment of a swollen spleen.
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The spleen is an organ that is part of the lymphatic system and is located on the left side of the abdomen, just below the ribs and to the right of the stomach. It performs essential functions both in the process of digestion and in the immune system, helping to prevent infections and diseases that can put the health of the body at risk.
Next, we specify what the main functions of the spleen are and why it is so important to keep it healthy and in perfect condition:
- Filters the blood, destroying those old and worn cells.
- Participates in the production of red blood cells and some white blood cells.
- It is involved in forming antibodies, allowing the body to be well protected against possible infectious agents that can make it sick.
- Helps transport water and moisture from the body.
- Digestion transforms the food eaten and allows the transport of nutrients. In addition, it is essential to promote the creation of iron deposits and the storage of platelets.
Causes of a swollen spleen
Under normal conditions, the spleen is a small organ that is about the size of a fist of a hand or an orange; However, if it is inflamed, its size becomes enlarged, and this is a condition that can happen due to having to carry out excessive work in filtering the blood or forming the cells if the blood flow is not normal. Or if there is an invasion by abnormal cells or deposits.
Usually, this is a symptom of an underlying condition or disease that must be diagnosed and medically treated appropriately in each case. The causes of a swollen spleen are diverse and, among them, are the following:
- Infections: Both bacterial (tuberculosis, anaplasmosis, malaria) and viral (infectious mononucleosis, HIV, viral hepatitis) infections can cause inflammation of the spleen.
- Liver diseases: such as cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis , obstruction of the portal vein (responsible for transporting deoxygenated blood from the digestive organs and spleen to the liver), and sclerosing cholangitis.
- Blood diseases: such as hemolytic anemias or hemoglobinopathies.
- Some types of cancer: include leukemia, lymphomas, and Hodgkin’s disease.
- Metabolic diseases: as can be the case of suffering from Niemann-Pick disease, in which there is an accumulation of lipids in the cells of the spleen, liver, and brain; Hurler syndrome, in which a person is unable to break down long chains of sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans, and these accumulate causing damage to different organs; or Gaucher disease, in which there is a lack of the enzyme glucocerebrosidase, and this causes an accumulation of toxic and harmful substances in the liver, basal, bone marrow, and bones.
- Heart failure.
Symptoms of a swollen spleen
It is essential to bear in mind that the symptoms can vary significantly from one patient to another, depending on the underlying disease that is causing said inflammation. However, those who suffer from a swollen spleen may experience signs or symptoms such as those detailed here:
- Sharp or intense pain is located in the upper left part of the abdomen. The faster the spleen has grown, the greater the pain. Because the spleen is located just below the diaphragm, the pain may spread down the back to the left shoulder. You may even have trouble breathing normally.
- Loss of appetite or a feeling of rapid satiety. This is due to the spleen’s pressure on the digestive organs when it is inflamed. Consequently to this, a progressive weight loss can be observed.
- Have hiccups, which can appear at any time, suddenly, and, in addition, usually recur several times on the same day.
- Anemia: when the spleen is swollen, blood clearance does not occur properly, and this can lead to specific alterations in red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.
- Tiredness and generalized weakness a symptoms closely associated with the previous one. People with a swollen spleen tend to be much more tired, especially when they wake up and make some physical effort, such as walking, carrying heavy objects, playing sports, etc.
- More bleeding wounds: if the spleen is inflamed, it accumulates a more significant number of red and white blood cells inside it and, therefore, these do not optimally reach the body. And one of the consequences of a decrease in white blood cells is a decrease in platelets, which will cause wounds to bleed more than usual.
Medical treatment of a swollen spleen
There is no specific medical treatment for inflammation of the spleen since this will be determined by the specialist after carefully reviewing the symptoms manifested and the diagnosis of the disease or condition causing it. Based on this, an appropriate treatment will be prescribed for each case, as well as the administration of the drugs that are required, which can be antivirals, antibiotics in case of bacterial infections, anti-inflammatory drugs, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy if the cause is some cancer, treatments for heart failure, liver problems, anemia, and so on.
Whatever the causative factor, it is advisable that you consult with your doctor in case of perceiving pain in the upper left area of the abdomen if it appears intensely or even if it prevents you from breathing normally. In all cases, an accurate medical diagnosis is necessary to avoid complications and a chronic infection that, in the long run, could lead to the removal of the spleen.
Recommendations and care in case of a swollen spleen
Some of the main recommendations for a swollen spleen are as follows:
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet, including plenty of vegetables and fruits, especially foods rich in antioxidants such as berries, tomato, kiwi, garlic, avocado, olive oil, wheat germ, citrus fruits, oily fish, and so on.
- Avoid those foods that are difficult to digest and that can complicate digestion, so it is advisable to limit or reduce the consumption of dairy products, white pasta, sugars, fried foods, pastries, red meat, etc.
- Stay well hydrated, increasing your daily water intake. The recommended quantity is between 1.5 and 2 liters.
- Avoid drinking sugary and alcoholic beverages.
- There are purifying infusions that are good allies to take care of the inflamed spleen, such as dandelion, apple tree tea, or parsley infusion.
- An excellent natural remedy to promote the cleansing of the lymphatic system and reduce inflammation of the spleen is to drink a wild blueberry juice a day. The following article shows many other natural remedies for a swollen spleen as effective as this one.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Swollen spleen: causes, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Immune system category .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.