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Can the spleen be affected by alcohol?

Updated July 19, 2017

The spleen indirectly feels the effects of the excessive consumption of alcohol. Prolonged alcohol abuse causes a type of liver disease that in turn causes the spleen to enlarge to an abnormal size.

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Spleen Function

The spleen filters and destroys damaged blood cells. This organ also produces white blood cells and helps prevent infection, among other functions.


The liver processes alcohol so that it can leave the body. Alcohol abuse, which overburdens the liver, can cause a condition called alcoholic cirrhosis.


Cirrhosis, which may cause death, replaces healthy liver tissue with scar tissue. Cirrhosis may cause liver cancer, kidney failure and an enlarged spleen, a condition referred to as splenomegaly.


An enlarged spleen does not function properly. According to the Mayo Clinic, often no overt symptoms of splenomegaly appear, though some people may experience abdominal pain, frequent infections, fatigue and they may bleed easily.


Initial treatment of cirrhosis-induced splenomegaly calls for abstinence from alcohol. In severe cases of splenomegaly, surgical removal of the spleen may occur.

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About the Author

Keith Vaughn

Keith Vaughn is an artist and writer in Asheville, NC. Vaughn regularly writes essays and fine art reviews for Bees And Trees Blog. He also paints and exhibits his work regularly. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

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