Discover the signs and symptoms that indicate possible spleen problems that may require medical care. Stay informed, stay healthy.

Discover the signs and symptoms that indicate possible spleen problems that may require medical care. Stay informed, stay healthy.

Symptoms of problem in the spleen

The spleen, an essential organ located in the upper left of the abdomen, plays a crucial role in the maintenance of the health and functionality of our immune system. However, like any other organ, the spleen can suffer various problems that derive in dysfunctions. It is important to know the symptoms associated with the problems of the spleen, since early detection can significantly influence the treatment and management of these conditions.

  • Abdominal pain: One of the most common symptoms that indicate problems in the spleen is persistent or intermittent abdominal pain. People may experience sharp or acute pain in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen, where the spleen is located. This pain can radiate to the left shoulder or back.
  • Spleen enlargement: Spleen enlargement, medically called splenomegaly, is usually associated with various underlying conditions. Palp or feel a swollen and sensitive spleen during physical examination is a crucial diagnostic indicator of spleen dysfunction.

It is important to keep in mind that spleen problems can manifest differently in each person, and the severity of the symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause. Therefore, it is imperative to go to the doctor when worrying signs are experienced. A healthcare professional will carry out an exhaustive exam and can perform additional diagnostic tests, such as blood test or image tests, to determine the exact cause of spleen dysfunction.

IMPORTANT: If you experience intense abdominal pain, you have difficulty breathing or inexplicable hematomas or bleeding, look for immediate medical attention. These symptoms may indicate a more serious condition and require urgent intervention.

In certain cases, it may be necessary to surgically remove an injured or sick spleen through a procedure called splenectomy. However, it is crucial to know the risks and possible implications of splenectomy, since the spleen plays an essential role in the immune system. Therefore, it is vital to collaborate closely with a healthcare professional to guarantee a complete treatment of spleen problems taking into account individual circumstances.

Understanding the Role of the Spleen

The spleen, a vital organ located in the upper left of the abdomen, plays a crucial role in the immune system and the general health of the organism. Often called the largest lymphatic organ of the body, the spleen contributes to the production and storage of white blood cells, filters the blood and helps eliminate old or damaged red blood cells. In addition, the spleen plays an important role in the fight against infections and in the maintenance of a healthy liquid balance in the body.

Spleen functions:

  1. Immune answer: The spleen is responsible for producing specific white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are essential for the immune response against bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. These lymphocytes help identify and destroy strange invaders, protecting the body from infections.
  2. Regulation of red blood cells: the spleen acts as a reservoir of red blood cells, freeing them to circulation when the body needs a greater oxygen contribution. It also helps eliminate and recycle old or damaged red blood cells, guaranteeing the efficacy and integrity of the blood.
  3. Platelet storage: platelets, crucial for blood coagulation and wound healing, are stored in the spleen. In case of bleeding or wound, the spleen releases these platelets to help in the coagulation process, contributing to avoid excessive blood loss.

Note: The spleen is not an essential organ for survival, since its functions can be partially compensated by other organs, such as liver and bone marrow. However, absence or spleen dysfunction may increase the risk of certain infections and other health complications.

Common Signs of Spleen Problems

1. Abdominal pain: One of the most common signs of spleen problems is abdominal pain. This pain is usually felt on the left side of the abdomen, just below the rib cage. The pain can vary from slight to intense and can be constant or intermittent. It can be accompanied by sensitivity or swelling in the area.

Tip: If you experience persistent or intense abdominal pain, it is important that you go to the doctor to determine the underlying cause.

  • 2. AGRENDED SACK: Another sign of problems in the spleen is its enlarged, also known as splenomegaly. This occurs when the spleen increases above normal. The enlarged spleen is perceived as a lump on the left side of the abdomen and can cause a feeling of fullness or discomfort. It can be detected by physical examination or confirmed with image tests such as an ultrasound or a TAC.
  • 3. Fatigue: Fatigue or excessive tiredness is a common symptom associated with spleen problems. When the spleen does not function properly, a decrease in the production of red blood cells can occur, causing anemia. Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
  1. 4. Recurrent infections: The spleen plays a role in the immune system by producing white blood cells and antibodies to fight infections. Therefore, people with spleen problems may be more susceptible to recurring infections, such as bacterial infections, pneumonia, or sinusitis.
  2. 5. Easy bruising or bleeding: Spleen problems can also affect the body’s ability to clot blood properly. This can easily cause bruising or bleeding, even from minor injuries. It is important to seek medical attention if unusual bruising or prolonged bleeding is observed.

Enlarged Spleen: Causes and Symptoms

Causes of enlarged spleen:

  • Infections: Certain infections, such as mononucleosis, hepatitis, and bacterial endocarditis, can cause the spleen to enlarge as it works to fight infections.
  • Liver diseases: Diseases such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, and congestive heart failure can raise blood pressure in the veins leading to the spleen, causing it to enlarge.
  • Blood disorders: Disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, and hemolytic anemia can cause the spleen to enlarge due to abnormal production of blood cells or increased destruction of blood cells.
  • Genetic diseases: Inherited diseases such as Gaucher disease, Niemann-Pick disease, and sickle cell anemia can contribute to an enlarged spleen.

Symptoms of enlarged spleen:

  1. Abdominal pain or discomfort: An enlarged spleen may cause a feeling of fullness or pain in the upper left part of the abdomen.
  2. Fatigue: An enlarged spleen can cause anemia, resulting in a feeling of fatigue or weakness.
  3. Frequent infections: The compromised immune function of an enlarged spleen can make individuals more susceptible to infections.
  4. Easy bleeding: A swollen spleen can trap a greater number of platelets, responsible for blood clotting, causing easy bruising or bleeding.

Note: It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms of an enlarged spleen, as it may indicate an underlying condition that requires treatment. Additionally, a physical examination and diagnostic tests, such as imaging scans or blood tests, may be necessary to confirm the enlarged spleen and determine its cause.

Recognizing the symptoms of a ruptured spleen

The usual symptoms of a ruptured spleen are:

  • Abdominal pain: The most frequent symptom of a spleen break is an intense abdominal pain, specifically located in the upper left quadrant. The pain can be deaf or sharp and radiate to other areas of the body, such as the shoulder.
  • Touch sensitivity: in addition to pain, a spleen break can cause sensitivity in the abdomen. The affected area may feel sore or sensitive when pressure is applied.
  • Dizziness or vertigo: the internal bleeding of a spleen break can cause a decrease in blood pressure, which gives rise to dizziness or stunning. This symptom can be accompanied by tachycardia or difficulty breathing.

It is important to keep in mind that the symptoms of a spleen break can vary depending on the seriousness of the lesion. In some cases, there are no initial perceptible symptoms and that breakage is only detected by image tests.

If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms or suspect that it can have a spleen break, it is crucial that you look for immediate medical attention. Delaying treatment can lead to potentially fatal complications and consequences. The adequate diagnosis and treatment by a healthcare professional are essential to treat a spleen break and guarantee a rapid recovery.

Spleen Pain: Causes and Remedies

Causes of spleen pain:

  1. Spleen enlargement (splenic megalia): Spleen enlargement, known medically as splenomegaly, can be a consequence of various conditions such as liver diseases, infections (such as mononucleosis), blood cancers or certain inflammatory disorders. The inflammation of the spleen can cause discomfort or a deaf pain in the upper left of the abdomen.
  2. Spleen injury: a trauma or lesion in the abdomen, such as a strong blow or a car accident, can cause damage or spleen break. This can cause intense abdominal pain, often irradiated to the left shoulder or back, and can be accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness or stunning due to internal bleeding.
  3. Infections: certain infections, such as bacterial or viral, can affect the spleen and cause pain. Affections such as infectious (mono) mononucleosis or bacterial endocarditis can cause spleen inflammation and consequent discomfort.

It is important to look for medical attention if you experience persistent or severe spleen pain, since it can indicate a more serious condition that requires treatment.

Spleen pain remedies:

  • Rest and avoidance of physical activities: Excessive physical activities can worsen spleen pain. It is important to get enough rest and avoid strenuous exercises or activities to relieve discomfort.
  • Hot compresses: Applying a hot compress to the affected area can help relieve spleen pain. A hot compress or hot towel can be used for this. However, it is important to avoid excessive heat which can cause burning or irritation.
  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be taken to relieve mild to moderate spleen pain. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication to ensure safety and avoid possible side effects.

Although these remedies may provide temporary relief, it is crucial to address the underlying cause of spleen pain. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional to obtain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

Identifying the Signs of Spleen Infections

1. Abdominal pain: One of the most notable warning signs of a spleen infection is abdominal pain. This pain is usually located in the upper left part of the abdomen and can range from mild discomfort to severe, sharp pain. It may worsen with movement or deep breathing, and may sometimes be accompanied by sensitivity to touch. If you experience persistent or severe abdominal pain, it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

  • 2. Fever: Another important symptom to take into account is fever. In cases of spleen infection, the body’s immune response can cause an increase in body temperature. A persistent fever, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as chills or sweating, could indicate an underlying infection of the spleen.
  • 3. Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired or fatigued is a common symptom associated with various infections, including spleen infections. The body works harder to fight the infection, which can cause feelings of exhaustion and general weakness. If you are experiencing unexplained fatigue, it is important to consider the possibility of a spleen infection.

Note: It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis if you experience any of these symptoms. The information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Unusual blood disorders associated with spleen dysfunction

The disruption of normal blood processes caused by dysfunction of the spleen can lead to several disorders, including:

  1. Thrombocytosis: Thrombocytosis, a disease characterized by an abnormally high platelet count, usually occurs when the spleen fails to regulate platelet levels effectively. Platelets play a vital role in blood clotting, but an excess of these blood cells can lead to abnormal clotting and an increased risk of thrombotic events.
  2. Hemolytic anemia: Spleen dysfunction can also contribute to the development of hemolytic anemia, a disease characterized by the accelerated destruction of red blood cells. The spleen normally removes old or damaged red blood cells from circulation, but when the spleen does not function properly, it can begin to destroy healthy red blood cells as well.
  3. Leukopenia: Leukopenia, a decrease in the number of white blood cells, may be related to dysfunction of the spleen. The spleen contributes to the production and regulation of white blood cells, which are essential for immune function. When the spleen is affected, there may be a decrease in the production of white blood cells, which makes the body more susceptible to infections and affects the immune response.

Note: It is important to note that these blood disorders may not be exclusive to spleen dysfunction and may also occur in other medical conditions. Therefore, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional to obtain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of these disorders.

Here are some symptoms that may indicate a problem with the spleen:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort: If you experience persistent pain or discomfort in the upper left part of your abdomen, it could be a sign of an enlarged or ruptured spleen. This type of pain can be sudden and intense, and can sometimes be felt in the left shoulder as well.
  • Unexplained fatigue or weakness: If you constantly feel fatigued or weak, it could be a symptom of an underlying problem with your spleen. The spleen helps filter and remove old or damaged red blood cells, and any dysfunction can lead to a decrease in the number of healthy red blood cells, causing fatigue.
  • Easy appearance of bruising or bleeding: The spleen is responsible for the production of platelets, which help blood clot. If the spleen is not working properly, it can decrease platelet production and cause easy bruising or bleeding.

Note:

  • It is important to remember that these symptoms can have various causes and do not necessarily point to problems with the spleen. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.
  • Do not try to sel f-diagnose or treat these symptoms without medical orientation, since it can lead to additional complications.

If you experience any of these symptoms or worry about your spleen’s health, we recommend that you hold an appointment with your doctor. Print medical attention can help identify any possible problem related to the spleen and ensure that proper attention is given.

Author of the article
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Medical oncologist at the Robert Larner College of Medicine, MD, at the University of Vermont

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