The swollen spleen can cause certain symptoms or signs that warn of its swelling. Therefore, discovering its causes is the basis for establishing the most appropriate medical treatment.
Unlike other organs of our body that we tend to have more present, such as the case of the liver or the kidneys, the spleen probably becomes one of the most “forgotten”. In fact, we do not usually remember that it is there until some condition or health disorder occurs that affects it. But although it does not usually cause problems, we must take into account what diseases or problems can influence its condition. Furthermore, one of the most common and usual is the inflammation of the spleen, which is medically known as splenomegaly.
The spleen consists of an organ that is part of our lymphatic system. It has an approximate size similar to the first of a hand, and we find it located 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, which fight against germs. In fact, as we indicated earlier, it is part of the lymphatic system, which, as you surely knows, fights infections, while maintaining the balance of fluids in our body. In addition, it destroys those damaged or aged cells, helps control the amount of blood in our body and keeps both red blood cells and platelets healthy.
Precisely when splenomegaly is diagnosed, it means that there is a larger than normal spleen.
What are the symptoms of a swollen spleen?
Basically there are three signs that can indicate the presence of an inflamed spleen, so in reality we are facing a disorder that is not so easy to diagnose.
For example, we can feel a certain inability to eat in large quantities, so that we tend to fill up more quickly and even with little food. That is, we get full quickly, even when we eat small amounts of food.
You can feel pain that is located in the upper left side of the abdomen, although as we discovered in a previous note in which we talked about pain in the left part of the abdomen, there are also other problems that can influence its appearance, such as case of pancreatitis, diverticulosis or diverticulitis and kidney stones. Among the reasons for abdominal pain, it is not only due to the swelling itself, but also because the spleen tends to stretch as a result of the inflammation. This pain tends to get worse when we take a deep breath, and can radiate to the left shoulder.
Hiccups are another of the usual signs of an enlarged spleen, especially if it appears at any time, suddenly and tends to recur several times in the same day.
Since the spleen is part of the lymphatic system and is responsible for filtering the blood and maintaining platelets and red and white blood cells at adequate levels, anemia can arise when the spleen is inflamed, caused by a lack of red blood cells. In turn, fatigue may appear as a result of anemia.
Causes of inflammation of the spleen
There are several causes that can cause the spleen to become inflamed. The most common are the following:
- Infections: Bacterial infections, cat scratch disease, infectious mononucleosis (either Epstein-Barr virus or cytomegalovirus), parasitic infections, or other viral infections.
- Liver diseases: cirrhosis, portal vein obstruction, cystic fibrosis, or sclerosing cholangitis.
- Blood diseases: hemoglobinopathies, hemolytic anemia’s.
- Cancer: Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia’s, lymphomas.
- Other diseases : systemic lupus erythematous, sarcoidosis and splenic sickle cell crisis
Swollen Spleen Treatment
It is clear that the treatment of the swollen spleen is related to the cause that caused the swelling, although medical treatment must be established soon since an enlarged spleen can lead to a chronic infection. In fact, in the long term, if infection arises it can lead to removal of the spleen.
For example, if the cause of the inflammation is an infection, antibiotics may be useful in treating the disease. While if the cause of the enlarged spleen is due to Hodgkin’s disease or leukemia, the medical treatment to follow is radiotherapy or chemotherapy.