Spleen pain (or splenomegaly) is a condition that results when the spleen becomes enlarged. This may be due to various causes, such as infection, inflammation, or cancer.
Symptoms may include pain in the left upper abdomen, feeling full after eating only a small amount of food, and fatigue. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and may include medications or surgery.
Causes: What Can Cause Spleen Pain?
The spleen is located in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen, approximately the size of a fist. The spleen is an organ that helps fight infection and filter out old or damaged blood cells. The spleen can also be affected by many different diseases and conditions.
Some common causes of spleen pain include infections such as mono or pneumonia, autoimmune conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, or liver diseases such as hepatitis.
Another potential cause of spleen pain is pressure on the veins in splenic flexure, a bend in the large intestine. This can occur with conditions like Crohn’s disease or tumors.
Additionally, spleen pain can result from injury or trauma.
Symptoms: What are the Symptoms of Spleen Pain?
When a person has pain in their spleen, it can be challenging to determine the cause. Spleen pain can be caused by various things, from infection to injury. In some cases, the cause of the pain is not readily apparent.
One common symptom of spleen pain is frequent bleeding. This may include bleeding from the nose, gums, or gastrointestinal tract. People with spleen pain may also have anemia due to constant blood loss.
Additionally, many people with spleen pain report feeling a sense of fullness in their upper left abdomen. Sharp, dull, or no pain can accompany this sensation.
You may also feel full when you do not eat or only eat a small amount due to the pressure from your spleen.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention right away. Spleen pain can result in further health complications if untreated.
Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of experiencing spleen pain. These include:
- Having a metabolic disorder such as Gaucher disease.
- Being exposed to malaria in areas where it is prevalent.
- Being a child or adult with infections, such as mononucleosis.
Complications Associated with Spleen Pain
Spleen pain is rare, but it can be severe if not treated. Some of the complications associated with spleen pain include infection and a ruptured spleen.
Bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause an infection in the spleen. This is a common complication of spleen pain and can occur when the spleen becomes enlarged. Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills, vomiting, and diarrhea.
A ruptured spleen. The spleen can rupture if it becomes too large and strained. A ruptured spleen can cause severe internal bleeding and requires emergency surgery to repair it.
If you are experiencing spleen pain, it is vital to get a proper diagnosis to determine the underlying cause and receive the appropriate treatment. Several different tests can help diagnose spleen pain, including blood tests, CT scans, and MRI scans.
Your doctor will likely start by ordering a blood test to check for signs of infection or inflammation. If the blood test results are inconclusive or your doctor suspects there may be a tumor causing your spleen pain, they may order CT scans, or MRI scans. These tests can help identify the location and size of any abnormalities in the spleen.
Once your doctor has determined the cause of your spleen pain, they can prescribe treatment accordingly.
Treatment for spleen pain (splenomegaly) usually depends on the underlying condition.
The spleen may need to be monitored periodically with blood tests and ultrasound to resolve the condition.
In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary to help clear up any infection.
It is also important to avoid strenuous activities or contact sports while recovering from spleen pain.
Surgery for spleen pain
Surgery for splenomegaly is typically only necessary if the enlarged spleen is causing pain or other health problems. Surgery may also be recommended to remove a cancerous spleen in some cases.
Splenectomy (surgical removal of the spleen) is usually performed laparoscopically, which is done through small incisions in the abdomen. This type of surgery has a faster recovery time and causes less pain than traditional open surgery.
What are the Dangers of Living without a Spleen?
For most people, living without a spleen is not dangerous. The liver can take over some of the functions of the spleen, such as fighting infection and removing damaged blood cells.
However, there are some risks associated with living without a spleen. People with sickle cell anemia or coeliac disease may be at increased risk for infection if they do not have a spleen.
And people with HIV may be more susceptible to diseases.
Spleen pain (splenomegaly) is a rare condition that various factors can cause.
If you feel pain in the upper left quadrant of your abdomen, it could be due to several factors.
In that case, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out spleen pain as a potential cause.