Under your left rib cage is a fist-sized organ named the spleen. Although you can live without it, the spleen helps the immune system, produces white blood cells, and filters blood and destroys damaged blood cells. Because it is part of the lymphatic system, it influences and is influenced by other organs. Therefore, many disorders outside of the spleen affect the spleen. There are also a few (cancer, genetic and injury) problems directly connected to the spleen. Most diseases of the spleen and diseases that affect your spleen have the same symptoms.
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An enlarged spleen, splenomegaly, can be caused by many things including infections, blood disorders, HIV, TB, and liver, blood or other cancers. A doctor can feel an enlarged spleen. Symptoms include swelling in the area, feeling fullness or pain under left ribs, pain in that area that may radiate to the shoulder, pain in left back, frequent hiccups and stomach feeling full after little food. There may be no symptoms other than the enlargement.
Other Symptoms Related to Disease
Symptoms that may be the spleen, but can also be caused by many other problems, include anaemia, fatigue, easily bleeding due to slow clotting and getting infections more often than normal due to decreased immune response.
Spleen injuries and ruptures are common in sports and accidents. Symptoms are pain or soreness in the spleen area below the left ribs, upper abdomen or pain in the left shoulder. If the spleen has ruptured, loss of blood can cause you to have low blood pressure and dizziness or fainting.
Sickle Cell Anemia
The spleen removes damaged cells. Sickle cell anaemia is named for the sickle-shaped red blood cells produced in this disorder, which the spleen sees as abnormal. If there are large amounts of these cells trapped by the spleen, it will enlarge and can cause a medical crisis or splenic sequestration.
Symptoms the Spleen Causes
An overactive spleen, generally caused by genetic disorders such as Gaucher disease, may remove too many red blood cells and cause anaemia. The spleen may enlarge or feel tender due to overworking, or the anaemia may be the only symptoms. In some disorders, removing the spleen will solve the problem.
As many disorders exhibit the same symptoms, the cause for spleen pain or enlargement can only be diagnosed by your physician. If you have symptoms related to your spleen, see your doctor immediately to determine what is causing the symptoms.
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