What causes enlarged spleen

The spleen (Splen, Lien) is an organ that receives little attention, although it fulfills important functions in the body. It filters the blood and contributes to a functioning immune system, as immune cells mature in it.

Enlarged spleen: these are the causes

An enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) can have various causes. As a rule, it is not a disease of its own, but occurs as a result of other underlying diseases or infections. These include:

  • Infectious diseases
    Typical triggers for an enlarged spleen are infectious diseases such as glandular fever, bacterial sepsis, malaria or syphilis.
  • Blood disorders
    Both benign and malignant blood diseases can be the cause of an enlarged spleen. The benign include, for example, congenital defects in the red blood cells. Changes in their structure can lead to them getting caught in the spleen and being broken down there. As they collect in the spleen, it enlarges. A malignant blood disease that causes splenomegaly is leukemia.
  • Portal vein damage
    When blood in the portal vein of the liver cannot drain, it backs up into the spleen. This process is called stasis spleen. It causes the spleen to swell. The causes of congestive spleen can include cirrhosis and fibrosis of the liver, heart failure or portal vein thrombosis.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases
    These include, for example, chronic granulomatosis or Kawasaki syndrome.
  • Diseases associated with a metabolic disorder

(Malignant) tumors in the organ itself can also be the cause. Connective tissue diseases such as Still's disease or the inflammatory disease sarcoid are also rare triggers.

Symptoms of an enlarged spleen

When it comes to the signs of an enlarged spleen, a distinction has to be made between the symptoms that are triggered by the previous illness and the symptoms that come from the resulting enlargement of the spleen.

Infectious diseases can manifest as fever, fatigue or swollen lymph nodes. For malignant diseases like cancer weight loss, fever, or night sweats may occur. At a anemia paleness, tiredness or exhaustion occur, among other things. Jaundice can occur Liver damage Clues.

Symptoms that are then caused by the enlargement of the spleen are often unspecific. However, splenomegaly can be caused by a Feeling of fullness or pressure as Pain in the upper left abdomen or back to make noticable. In many cases it can also be felt under the left costal arch.

Treatment of the enlarged spleen

If you have pain in the left upper abdomen or if you feel sick, see your doctor. This can determine the enlargement of the spleen and diagnose and treat the respective cause. If the underlying disease is treated, the enlargement of the spleen often disappears as well. If the spleen capsule ruptures as a result of the enlargement or if the spleen becomes overactive, one comes too surgical removal of the organ (Splenectomy) is an option.

Spleen: not a vital organ

If the spleen has to be removed, there is no danger to life as it is not a vital organ. However, the procedure should only be performed if it is absolutely necessary is. Those who no longer have a spleen are more susceptible to infections or blood poisoning. People without a spleen are also at a higher risk of a severe course of infection with certain bacteria such as pneumococci or meningococci.