Facts About Splenomegaly
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Facts About Splenomegaly

A look at causes and symptoms of splenomegaly (enlarged spleen).

In an over-medicated, over-hospitalized, and over-informed world we often find ourselves self diagnosing using the powers of the World Wide Web. However, one of the least thought of organs can be one of the most dangerous if not paid enough attention to. According to WebMD, the spleen is basically the largest lymph node in the body. It is responsible for filtering blood and plays a major role in the immune system. Its location makes it sometimes tricky to diagnose problems with.

The Spleen is located underneath the rib cage, in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen. It is not easily palpated unless it becomes enlarge. Someone with an enlarged spleen may feel pain on their ribs that becomes worse when pressure is applied. Another bizarre symptom associated with an enlarged spleen is a feeling of fullness even without eating. There are many reasons as to why the spleen becomes enlarged, and many of them are serious.

  • Viral infections, such as mononucleosis
  • Parasitic infections, such as toxoplasmosis
  • Bacterial infections, such as endocarditis (an infection of your heart's valves)
  • Cancer
  • Leukemia, a cancer in which white blood cells displace normal blood cells
  • Lymphoma, a cancer of lymph tissue, such as Hodgkin's disease
  • Other causes of an enlarged spleen include:
  • Inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Trauma, such as an injury during contact sports
  • Cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the spleen
  • A cyst, a noncancerous fluid-filled sac
  • A large abscess, a pus-filled cavity usually caused by a bacterial infection
  • Infiltrative diseases such as Gaucher's disease, amyloidosis, or glycogen storage diseases

If you have a disease associated with an enlarged spleen, other symptoms may develop that you need to be aware of:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections
  • Easy bleeding
  • Jaundice
  • Anemia

So how does a doctor diagnose a spleen as being enlarged? With the exception of very thin people, it is very difficult to feel the spleen upon exam. Therefore, a doctor can perform a variety of tests to determine its size and whether or not it is a problem:

• Blood tests, such as a complete blood count to check the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in your system

• Ultrasound or computerized tomography (CT) scan to help determine the size of your spleen and whether it's crowding other organs

• Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) to trace blood flow through the spleen

If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with this, please seek professional help immediately. Online resources are not a substitution for sound medical advice.

Mayo Clinic


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Comments (3)

"In an over-medicated, over-hospitalized, and over-informed world..." Amen.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and research in this well presented article. Promoted.

Like information