Spleen Pain

The Truth about Spleen Pain

The spleen is often times the last thing a person thinks about when they are doubled over with severe spleen pain.  But the spleen is a highly sensitive organ, and can sometimes be the cause of abdominal pain. This article will go over facts about the spleen, possible causes of spleen pain, and treatments.

What is your spleen?

The spleen is an organ that can be found under your rib cage, above your stomach, and below your heart on the upper left side of your body. About the size of your stomach or your closed fist, the spleen is often forgotten about. However, your spleen is a major and important organ responsible for many responsible jobs related to your health. If you’re experiencing potential spleen pain, it’s important that you see your doctor as soon as possible.

What does the spleen do?

As part of the lymphatic system, the spleen is responsible for filtering your blood. It helps you fight disease and infections.  The spleen is responsible for filtering the blood coming directly from the heart via the splenic artery.  The spleen helps to balance your red and white blood cells, body fluid levels, and fight infection. If your spleen is infected or injured and needs to be removed, you can survive without it.  However, your body’s ability to fight infection will have to be taken over by other organs such as the liver and kidneys. This will put extra stress on those organs.

What causes spleen pain?

Potential reasons for spleen pain may include liver damage, cancer, or ruptured spleen due to an accident such as a major fall or car crash. An enlarged spleen may occur because of an infection. Most people may not recognize that the pain is coming from the spleen. Symptoms of an enlarged spleen may include loss of appetite, abdominal pain, anemia, and easy or excessive bleeding.  Pain when inhaling is also a symptom of an enlarge spleen and a doctor should be consulted immediately if you are experience pain in the upper left side of your stomach. Viral infections, malaria, cirrhosis, blood or lymph cancers, or syphilis can all be causes of an enlarged spleen.

What is a splenectomy?

Certain causes of spleen pain, such as cirrhosis or viral infections can sometimes be remedied with medication or lifestyle changes.  However, if your spleen is beyond repair due to cancer, disease, or a rupture, a procedure called a splenectomy may be recommended or required. This surgical procedure is the removal of the spleen organ.  Because of the spleen’s important disease and infection fighting abilities, those who have had a splenectomy will be more likely to have difficulty fighting infections. With your immune system compromised, you will have to take extra special care to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating right.

What should be done to stay healthy after a splenectomy?

A healthy, well balanced diet, rich in iron and vitamin A, should be implemented immediately. Smoking and alcohol should be eliminated as much as possible. Yearly flu shots are also highly recommended. Staying home during sick seasons or avoiding homes or work environments that could potential house diseases are recommended.

In conclusion, Spleen pain is difficult to identify. Rarely do you hear someone say, “Ow, my spleen hurts”. However, spleen pain is an important issue to pay attention to. Spleen awareness (becoming educated about the spleen location and its functions), understanding the symptoms of spleen disorders, and seeing a doctor immediately when experiencing any of those symptoms can reduce the chances of further infection. A healthy spleen means a healthier you!