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Overview

The spleen is a small organ located under the left rib cage. The condition known as splenic hypertrophy or splenomegaly may be caused by a variety of illnesses, including infections, liver disease, and some kinds of cancer. Splenomegaly is the medical term for an enlarged spleen. Liver enlargement is also possible along with the enlargement of the spleen. Hepatosplenomegaly is the disorder of enlarged liver and spleen because of swelling of these organs.

This organ, which is spherical in form, is spongy and performs a variety of critical functions. One of its functions is filtration, which is the process through which old and damaged red blood cells are removed and destroyed. It is also involved in the development of white blood cells (lymphocytes) and their activity as the first line of defense against disease-causing germs. They in turn prevent infection. It is also critical to maintaining a reserve of red blood cells and platelets, which are needed for blood coagulation. Each of these tasks becomes increasingly difficult to execute as the spleen increases in size. If your spleen develops significantly, it may become unable to perform its normal functions.

It is uncommon for individuals to have symptoms associated with an enlarged spleen. It is often found during a regular medical check. Imaging and blood tests may be performed to establish whether you have an enlarged spleen and the cause of the enlargement.

The optimal course of treatment for an enlarged spleen is dependent on the underlying cause. While surgery to remove an enlarged spleen is uncommon, it may be indicated in specific circumstances.

If your enlarged spleen is the result of an infection, depending on the circumstances, your doctor may prescribe medicines to treat the problem. Antibiotics will be prescribed in accordance with the organism that is causing the illness. In certain instances, a virus, such as mononucleosis, may have caused your illness, rendering medicines ineffective. In severe instances, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of your spleen, a procedure called a splenectomy, to alleviate your symptoms.

An enlarged spleen is usually without symptoms or signs, but in some instances, it may result in complications. Some of the enlarged spleen symptoms in this case include:

·         Left upper abdominal pain or discomfort which may extend to the shoulder

·         Sensations of fullness even when you are not eating due to the spleen’s pressure on the stomach

·         Inadequate Number of red blood cells in the body (anemia)

·         Recurrent infections

·         Easy bruising and bleeding

Causes

The spleen may grow because of its normal functions or because of an underlying medical problem. Increased blood supply to the organ, as well as infections and diseases that invade the organ, are all common reasons for spleen enlargement. While an enlarged spleen may afflict anybody at any age, some groups of individuals are predisposed to this condition. Children and adolescents who have mononucleosis are at risk of developing an enlarged spleen. Individuals who reside in or go to malaria-endemic regions are also at risk of developing enlarged spleen. Gaucher disease, Niemann-Pick disease, and a number of other hereditary metabolic disorders affecting the liver and spleen may also cause the spleen to become enlarged.

Numerous illnesses, including infections, cirrhosis, and other liver disorders, blood diseases defined by aberrant blood cells, lymphatic system issues, and other illnesses, may all result in an enlarged spleen, which is potentially deadly.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is another potential cause of splenomegaly. It should be investigated in children and adolescents. The lymphatic system may become irritated and uncomfortable when this disease develops. Since the spleen is a lymphatic organ, inflammation may result in the organ growing in size.

Some other causes of the enlarged spleen are:

·         Sickle cell disease

·         Hodgkin’s disease

·         Leukemia

·         Heart failure

·         Spleen tumor

·         Infections (bacterial, viral, or parasitic)

·         Inflammatory diseases

When to see a doctor

If you have discomfort in your left upper abdomen, particularly if it is severe or worsens when you take a breath, see your doctor immediately. The spleen is a fragile organ. When the spleen ruptures, internal bleeding may occur in the abdomen, which may be fatal. The potential adverse effects of an enlarged spleen include infection. Spleen enlargement may result in a decrease in the amount of healthy red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells in the circulation, increasing your susceptibility to infection. Additionally, anemia and excessive bleeding are potential side effects. It is crucial to address the enlarged spleen pain, which is felt behind the ribs. 


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