Q:

Why does my spleen hurt?

A:

Quick Answer

An enlarged spleen sometimes causes pain, especially when the individual takes a deep breath, according to WebMD; however, many people have an enlarged spleen with no symptoms at all. In these cases, the doctor discovers the problem through a physical examination. In most people, the spleen, located in the in the rib cage near the left back, cannot be felt unless it is enlarged.

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Full Answer

The most common treatment for an enlarged spleen is addressing the underlying problem. If there is a bacterial infection, the individual takes antibiotics to kill the bacteria. In some cases, an enlarged spleen does not respond to the medication or causes serious complications and requires surgical removal. The surgeon removes the spleen through a small incision using a laparoscope, according to Mayo Clinic.

The spleen is a part of the lymph system of the human body and helps to prevent disease. The enlarged spleen sometimes causes issues other than pain, such as fatigue, excessive bleeding, anemia and jaundice. If the doctor believes the pain is from the spleen, he is likely to order further diagnostic testing, according to WebMD. These tests include blood tests, ultrasound and a CT scan of the spleen. When a patient receives the diagnosis of an enlarged spleen, his doctor usually wants him to limit activities that could cause the spleen to rupture, causing internal bleeding.

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Related Questions

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    What are the functions of the spleen?

    A:

    The spleen serves two major functions in humans. First, it plays an important role in adaptive immunity; groups of B and T lymphocytes reside in the spleen. These white blood cells produce antibodies, fight bacteria and viruses and destroy infected cells. Second, the spleen holds a third of the body's platelets in reserve. If a person suffers an internal hemorrhage, the spleen releases these platelets into the circulation.

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  • Q:

    Can you live without your spleen?

    A:

    Humans can live without a spleen, and if the spleen is injured, it is often removed in a procedure called a splenectomy. An injured or bruised spleen can rupture and cause massive internal bleeding. Thus, it is safer to remove the spleen than to risk it bursting.

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    What organs are near the spleen in a human?

    A:

    The spleen is located under the left side of the diaphragm and near the stomach, pancreas, liver and the heart. The inferior vena cava and the hepatic artery, coming from the heart, are located to the right of the spleen. The organ is protected by the rib cage.

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    How is the spleen like a lymph node?

    A:

    The spleen is like a lymph node because it contains lymphocytes.

    Lymphocytes are white blood cells that help the body fight off infections.

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