Another surprise? Research shows that around 3 percent of healthy first-year college students have enlarged spleens. However, for others, it can point to problems like an underlying infection, illness or developing disorder.
So what exactly is an enlarged spleen, how can you tell if you have one and how can you treat it if you do? Turns out there are natural ways to deal with this common condition. Under normal circumstances, your spleen is about the size of your fist and hardly even detectable to touch during a physical exam.
The spleen is a brown, oval-shaped organ located in the upper left side of the abdomen just below the rib cage.
Think of your lymphatic system like this: If your body were a city, the organs and fluids that make up the lymphatic system would be the policemen, firefighters and the garbage men. The spleen ultimately controls the level of circulating red blood cells within the blood, removing old and worn-out red cells that can no longer do their jobs. It also very importantly fights infections by producing phagocytes and lymphocytestwo types of protective white blood cells. The results of a suffering spleen?
If you want to maintain a strong immune system, avoid becoming sick, and retain muscle and joint health into older age, then you want to be careful to take good care of your entire lymphatic system, including, of course, your spleen!
Since symptoms can sometimes be nonexistent, or at least minimal enough to not cause any concerns, an enlarged spleen is usually first discovered during a routine physical exam, catching most people by total surprise.
In a healthy person, the normal weight and size of the spleen can vary a lot depending on factors like age, sex, body weight and body surface area. For example, studies suggest that the spleen can range from 58 grams in a year-old woman to grams in a year-old man. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of a damaged spleen is becoming more susceptible to illnesses and feeling very fatigued. The spleen produces white blood cells that capture and destroy bacteria, dead cells and tissue, and other outside particles that make their way into the body and circulate via the bloodstream.
The spleen can become swollen for a lot of different reasons, some more concerning than others. For example, viral infections, high alcohol intake, cirrhosis of the liver and parasitic infections are all risk factors for an enlarged spleen.
Some of the ways you can prolong the health of your spleen include avoiding a poor diet high in processed foods, limiting the amount of over-the-counter or prescription drugs you take, which helps cleanse the liveronly drinking alcohol in moderation, and quitting smoking or ever using recreational drugs. One of the most likely causes of an enlarged spleen is an infection, since swelling in the spleen signifies an increase in white blood cells that are trying to attack something threatening.
Infections that can impact the spleen include viruses like mononucleosis, parasitic infections or infections caused by bacteria. Leishmaniasisa type of parasitic disease found in parts of the tropics, subtropics and southern Europe, can lead to an enlarged spleen. Leishmaniasis is believed to affect about ,—, people every year and develops after coming into contact with parasites, including infected sand flies.
Drugs and alcohol are capable of causing problems in the spleen because they directly affect how splenic cells work. Drugs provoke severe hemolysis, which is the rupture or destruction of red blood cells. This is associated with decreased immune function and splenomegaly. Sometimes the spleen is damaged or enlarged because of side effects or disturbances in other organs, such as the liver or other parts of the immune system.
Your doctor will work with you to tackle the root causes of the enlarged spleen, since left unmanaged this condition can become very serious and even deadly in some cases. Treatment options for dealing with an enlarged spleen are usually aimed at reducing any noticeable symptoms and pain, while also tackling the underlying causes like a chronic disease, diet, lifestyle, infection and so on.
Only as a last resort would a doctor decide to perform surgery to remove an enlarged spleen. Remember, the spleen is necessary and important for keeping the body guarded from disease and bacterial infections, so removing it comes with risks of its own.
After surgery to remove the spleen, further down the line someone can become more prone to infections and becoming sick since removing the spleen means the body is left with one less line of defense. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can help protect yourself from developing or worsening an enlarged spleen. This means avoiding contact sports like football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, etc.
An important precaution to take is to always wear a seat belt when driving, since a car accident is likely to cause even more injury to the spleen.
Historically in Eastern medicine, the spleen is viewed as one of the most important organs to well-being, strength and immunity. In Ancient Chinese Medicine and other schools of Eastern medicine, an unhealthy spleen is one of the key contributors to fatigue and anemia, and it can impact how other digestive organs work, including the colon, uterus, rectum, liver or stomach. The best way to support your spleen and entire lymphatic and digestive systems is to eat a diet high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential fluids.Majority of the people today who have some sort of health condition are not even aware of having it as they tend to confuse the signs of the problem with everyday issues.
One of such conditions is having an enlarged spleen. In accordance with the statistics, 3 percent of the college students who are otherwise healthy have an enlarged spleen. Why does this condition occur? The reasons can vary from person to person.
In some cases, people have an enlarged spleen due to family history and genetics. People who have genetically enlarged spleens do not have any health issues as it does not affect their general health. On the other hand, enlarged spleens can also often highlight some underlying issue or infection that may be in process of developing.
What makes an enlarged spleen complicated it that most of the people who have it are not able to see any noticeable symptoms until it progresses to a painful stage. It can even reach a point where there is no other treatment but immediate surgery. The spleen is usually cited as the main organ responsible for safeguarding the body from all kinds of attacks from bacteria, virus, or fungi.
It is an essential part of the lymphatic system without which it cannot function properly. An enlarged spleen or what is also known as splenomegaly is a fundamental sign of the reduction in the ability of the immune system to fight off potential illnesses and pathogens effectively. Generally, the size of the spleen is around the same as that of a fist. It cannot be felt during any kind of physical examination due to its small size.
Whenever a person is having a health condition or problems in the lymphatic system, the spleen swells and grows much larger depending on the severity of the illness or issue. Majority of the times people are not able to tell that their spleen is a size that is considered normal.
At other times, a swollen spleen is extremely noticeable especially when it grows dramatically and brings the extreme pain with it. Swelling of the spleen is not always a health concern. Some of the people might just have it due to their genetics but it does show that the immune system is putting in extra effort to protect the body. Therefore, it is suggested that it should be checked properly before it can cause more complications. The spleen is a crucial part of the lymphatic system and mainly protects the body from many different kinds of pathogens as well as the effects of stress, certain toxins, and harmful particles, and even deficiencies.
What Are The Signs Of An Enlarged Spleen?
It is an oval-shaped organ that is brown in color and is right under the ribcage at the upper left side of the abdomen. Unusual swelling at this part of the abdomen that comes with pain is an indicator of dramatically swollen spleens. The most important function that is performed by the spleen is the production of antibodies in order to fight foreign invaders such as bacteria and many others.
Additionally, the spleen also performs a number of other functions. Balancing and transporting fluid levels, removing toxins and other waste from the muscles and joint tissues, keeping the blood clean, and maintaining the blood platelet count are some of the other duties performed by the spleen. Controlling and balancing the number of red blood cells required in the blood is also the job of the spleen and removes inactive cells that are no longer needed so other cells may take their place.
The spleen produces phagocytes and lymphocytes which are two important white blood cells that are mainly responsible for combating against different types of infections.Spleen lymphoma, also called splenic marginal zone lymphoma, is a condition in which cancerous cells grow within the spleen, bone marrow and blood 1. This rare disease is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that begins within the spleen 3.
People who develop symptoms of spleen lymphoma should seek care from a medical professional as soon as possible. The spleen is a small organ located beneath the rib cage within the left side of the abdomen. This organ helps produce immune cells, which are used to protect the body against infection. Those with spleen lymphoma can develop extensive cancer cell growth within the spleen.
Increased abnormal cell growth can cause the spleen to swell and enlarge, a symptom of spleen lymphoma referred to as splenomegaly, health professionals with Know Cancer report 1.
What are the symptoms of cancer of the spleen?
Affected people can develop abdominal distention or swelling due to spleen enlargement. An enlarged spleen can also cause mild abdominal pain or discomfort. Spleen lymphoma is a type of B-cell lymphoma that can cause fever symptoms in certain people, University of Maryland Medical Center health professionals report 2.
A fever is an increase in body temperature signaled by the immune system in response to the presence of infection or abnormal cell growth. Those who develop a fever can appear flushed and their skin can be warm to the touch. Night sweats can also occur as a symptom of spleen lymphoma in certain people.
Profuse sweating through the night can be disruptive and may cause certain people to wake frequently drenched in sweat.
A swollen spleen can expand and press into surrounding organs, such as the gastrointestinal tract. When this occurs, affected people can develop a decreased appetite or may become full after eating a small amount of food, Know Cancer health experts report. These symptoms of spleen lymphoma can contribute to mild to moderate weight loss in affected people.
In healthy people, the lymph glands within the spleen help clear toxins from the bloodstream. Cancer cell growth within the spleen can disrupt the normal function of this organ, causing toxins to accumulate within the blood. High levels of blood toxins can inflame and irritate the skin. Consequently, people with spleen lymphoma can develop unusually itchy skin as a symptom of this disease, UMMC health professionals report.
People who frequently scratch itchy skin can be at an increased risk of developing a skin infection. Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing.
Her work has appeared in various online publications.Spleen cancer typically develops when cancer in another part of the body, most often lymphomas and leukemia, spread to this fist-sized organ. The spleen is under the rib cage on the left side of the body. It is part of the lymphatic system and plays a part in helping the body fight off disease.
This role means it can also be considered part of the immune system. Doctors may remove the spleen due to injury or illnesses, including cancer.
Why I Gained Weight
Researchers believe it happens in less than 2 percent of all lymphomas and 1 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas. A form of cancer that does develop in the spleen is called splenic marginal zone lymphoma or SMZL, which is considered a kind of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Since most cancers affecting the spleen are cancers that spread from another place, understanding the causes of spleen cancer means looking at what causes these other diseases.
Most cancers that start in the spleen are a kind of lymphoma or leukemia. Most of the time, it is not possible to find a specific cause of lymphoma, according to Lymphoma Action. Researchers have, nonetheless, identified factors that may increase the risk of developing lymphoma, including:.
Several studies have identified a link between chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus, and the risk of developing a specific kind of cancer known as B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which can lead to spleen cancer. Researchers have also identified possible links between spleen cancer and environmental hazards, such as thorium dioxide or monomer vinyl chloride.
People with spleen cancer can have a variety of symptoms or none at all in some cases. Roughly 25 percent of people with SMZL do not show symptoms. It is essential, however, to remember that an enlarged spleen does not necessarily mean that an individual has spleen cancer.
Spleen cancer is very often due to lymphomas and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in particular, so it is helpful to be aware of signs of this disease. People with any of the symptoms listed above should see a doctor for checks and treatment if it is necessary. Keep in mind that some thing other than cancer many cause these symptoms.
For example, an infection can lead to swollen lymph nodes. Since there is no screening test for spleen cancer, and the disease can develop without symptoms, it is always wise to have a doctor check any signs that are concerning. Doctors use a variety of tools to diagnose spleen cancer.LOSE Weight, GAIN Energy, GROW Hair with Alkaline Herbs - Fertility, Anxiety Detox
The most direct and conclusive method is surgical removal and testing of a sample of the spleen tissue. This is also the most invasive, and doctors prefer to use other approaches first.
Doctors will be looking for clues to help them diagnose and possibly treat spleen cancer while interviewing the individual about:. Historically, splenectomy was often the first treatment used, and studies have shown that most people who had this surgery did not need any further treatment for 5 years.
However, treatment with a human-made antibody called rituximab has been shown to be almost as effective as surgery at reducing symptoms in people with SMZL.The spleen is a small organ normally about the size of your fist.
But a number of conditions, including liver disease and some cancers, can cause your spleen to enlarge. Your spleen is an organ located just below your left rib cage. Many conditions — including infections, liver disease and some cancers — can cause an enlarged spleen, also known as splenomegaly spleh-no-MEG-uh-lee. An enlarged spleen usually doesn't cause symptoms.
It's often discovered during a routine physical exam. Your doctor generally can't feel a normal-sized spleen in adults but can feel an enlarged spleen. Your doctor will likely request imaging and blood tests to help identify the cause. Treatment for an enlarged spleen focuses on the underlying condition that's causing it. Surgically removing an enlarged spleen isn't usually the first treatment, but is sometimes recommended.
See your doctor promptly if you have pain in your left upper abdomen, especially if it's severe or the pain gets worse when you take a deep breath.
A number of infections and diseases may cause an enlarged spleen. The enlargement of the spleen may be temporary, depending on treatment. Contributing factors include:. Your spleen is tucked under your rib cage next to your stomach on the left side of your abdomen. It's a soft, spongy organ that performs several critical jobs.
Your spleen:. An enlarged spleen affects each of these vital functions. As your spleen grows larger, it filters normal red blood cells as well as abnormal ones, reducing the number of healthy cells in your bloodstream.
It also traps too many platelets. Excess red blood cells and platelets eventually can clog your spleen and affect normal functioning. An enlarged spleen may even outgrow its own blood supply, which can damage or destroy sections of the organ. Anyone can develop an enlarged spleen at any age, but certain groups are at higher risk, including:. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
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Do You Have an Enlarged Spleen? Warning Signs and 5 Treatments
Enlarged spleen The spleen is a small organ normally about the size of your fist. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Share on: Facebook Twitter. Show references Landaw SA, et al. Approach to the adult patient with splenomegaly and other splenic disorders. Accessed June 14, Merck Manual Professional Version.
Longo DL, et al. Enlargement of lymph nodes and spleen. New York, N.I have always been an active sort—running, biking, swimming and working out in the gym. I even ran and completed eight marathons in my 30s. In Fortunately for me, when I needed treatment for the myelofibrosis there was a newly approved medicine, ruxolitinib marketed under the name Jakafi.
I began taking those pills in the fall ofthe spleen quickly shrank, and I went on with my normal activities. Was it because I was drinking more beer when we lived in Barcelona from to ? Or was it something else? Maybe with the spleen getting smaller, it's increased room for my stomach and more food? All good potential answers but, unfortunately, not the right answer. The doctors said gaining weight was a good thing, because formerly MF patients with super-enlarged spleens could hardly eat, and they could be seriously underweight.
Finally, there is a scientific answer courtesy of our researcher friends Dr.
Joe Scandura and Dr. They conducted a study with mice to better understand what they were seeing with their patients. It turns out ruxolitinib interferes with leptin in the body and the messages of when our appetite is satisfied can be disrupted.
I took those pills for more than seven years, and they worked. But as time went on, there were dips in my blood counts that had my doctor suggesting a switch to a new drug in the JAK inhibitor class, fedratinib, or also known as Inrebic. I am losing weight! All of us with an MPN are blessed with expanding options. But we have options! I welcome your comments at comments patientpower. Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power.
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