The spleen is an organ that is small and located just below the rib cage on the left side. Usually, the spleen is approximately the size of a fist, but there are a number of conditions that can cause the spleen to enlarge. This can happen because of infections, liver diseases as well as some cancers.
The majority of individuals do not have symptoms with spleen that is enlarged. This problem is usually discovered during a routine yearly exam. The physician is not able to feel a normal-sized spleen but can feel it when it is enlarged.
Spleen Pain Location
The pain or feeling of fullness of a spleen that has a problem is usually located in the left upper abdominal area.
Spleen Pain Symptoms
Problems with the spleen especially one that is enlarged can cause the following symptoms:
- In certain cases – there are no symptoms
- Fullness or pain in the upper left abdomen and can spread to the left shoulder
- Full feeling minus eating or after eating only a very tiny amount – this may happen when an distended spleen presses against the stomach
- Frequent infections
- Bleeding easy
See the physician promptly if there is pain in the upper left abdomen, and if it is severe or the pain grows worse as soon as you take a very deep breath.
Spleen Pain Causes
There are numerous diseases and infections that can cause the spleen to enlarge. The problems on the spleen can in some cases be transitory dependent on the treatment and if it works. Causative factors consist of:
- Infections caused by viruses, for instance mononucleosis
- Infections caused by bacteria, for instance syphilis or infection of the heart’s inner lining known as endocarditis
- Infections of parasites, for instance malaria
- Hemolytic anemia that has many various types – and is a problem characterized by early damage of red blood cells
- Cirrhosis as well as other diseases that affect the liver
- Cancers of the blood such as lymphomas like Hodgkin’s disease as well as leukemia
- Pressure on the veins in the liver or spleen or a blood clot in these veins
- Metabolic illnesses such as Niemann-Pick as well as Gaucher’s disease
The spleen is put under the rib cage adjacent to the stomach on the left side of the abdomen. It is a spongy, soft organ that does several jobs that are critical and easily can be impaired. Amid other things, the spleen:
- Filters and destroys damaged or old blood cells
- Prevents infection by creating white blood cells known as lymphocytes as well as performing as first line defense against attacking pathogens.
- Stocks platelets and red blood cells – platelets help with the blood clotting
- Acts as an go between the immunity system and the brain, which leads scientists to believe that someday they might be able to trigger the spleen’s infection fighting abilities by influencing the nervous system.
A spleen that is enlarged affects functions that are vital. For example, as the spleen gets larger, it starts to filter the normal cells as well as the abnormal ones, thus decreasing the number of healthy cells in the blood system. It will also trap too many platelets. Ultimately, the excessive red cells as well as platelets can clog the spleen interfering with the normal functioning. A spleen that is enlarged can even get too large for its own blood supply, and can destroy or damage sections of the organ.
Almost anyone may develop a spleen that is enlarged at any age, but some individuals have a higher risk, and they include:
- Young adults and children with contagions such as mononucleosis
- Individuals of African descent, who can grow splenomegaly as a problem of sickle cell disease which is a genetic disorder of the blood
- Individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry have a greater risk of Gaucher’s disease, Niemann-Pick disease as well as certain other inherited illnesses that are metabolic and affect the spleen and the liver.
- Travelers in regions where malaria is pervasive
Probable difficulties of an enlarged spleen include:
- Infections which are frequent
- Ruptured spleen – can be life-threatening due to bleeding
Spleen Pain Treatment
When a spleen that is enlarged causes complications or underlying problems that cannot be identified or treated, surgery to remove the spleen is an option. Actually, surgery might have the best option for recovery in some critical or chronic cases.
But spleen removal that is elective needs careful contemplation. An individual may have an active life minus a spleen, but are most likely to develop serious or life-threatening infections, including overpowering infection post-splenectomy that may occur soon after surgery. Often, radiation is used to shrink the spleen so that surgery can be avoided.
Reducing risk of infection after surgery
If an individual does have the spleen removed there are some steps that can aid in the reduction of the risk of infection, such as:
- Series of vaccinations before as well as after the splenectomy. These can include the pneumococcal or Pneumovax, meningococcal and haemophilus influenze type b vaccines, which protect against pneumonia, meningitis, as well as infections of the bones, joints and blood.
- Taking penicillin or other antibiotics after surgery and anytime there is suspected the possibility of an infection.
- Avoiding traveling to areas of the world where diseases such as malaria are pervasive.