Monday, October 6, 2008
Why Is My Spleen Swollen?
After having a Sickle Cell crisis last year I experienced a new complication of Sickle Cell Disease. I experienced pain and swelling in the upper left part of my stomach. My doctors said that my spleen was swollen and that it should go down soon. Nine months later, it’s still swollen and tender to any pressure or touch. This problem isn’t going away.
I’d heard about spleen problems being associated with the many complications of Sickle Cell Disease, but I hadn’t got my dose of this problem, yet. Now that I’ve joined this happy group, I wanted to know more.
****** The problem I’m experiencing is called Hyposplenism (or reduced spleen function). And, they call it Asplenia (the absence of normal spleen function.)******
MY QUESTIONS ARE: What in the heck is the spleen and what is its function in the body?
1. The spleen is an organ in the upper left side of the abdomen that filters the blood by removing old or damaged blood cells and platelets.
2. It also helps the immune system by destroying bacteria and other foreign substances.
3. It also holds extra blood that can be released into the circulatory system if needed.
4. The spleen is a useful but is a nonessential organ. It is sometimes removed (splenectomy) in people who have blood disorders, such as thalassemia or anemia.
5. If the spleen is removed, a person’s of risk infection greatly increases.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Not much. As my spleen function decreases, I MUST prevent infections and get flu vaccines every winter. Eventually, my spleen may need to be removed as the “absence of normal function” causes more swelling, pain, or disfunction. I’ll hold my breath until that day comes…..just kidding, don’t want to turn blue too.
Oh well, life is hard, I'll get a helmet :-)