Hypersplenism

Hypersplenism spleen

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

The most common symptom of hypersplenism is anemia. This is because an enlarged spleen causes widespread breakdown of RBCs. This can further cause fatigue and shortness of breath. Other symptoms of hypersplenism are- pain in the left abdomen, feeling of fullness in the said region, recurring (or frequent) infections, and general weakness. However, in many cases hypersplenism might not result in any noticeable symptoms at all.
Hypersplenism or enlarged spleen can occur due to a variety of reasons such as viral infections, metabolic disorders, trauma to the spleen, etc. It has been observed that a number of liver conditions can also cause hypersplenism. Liver cirrhosis, hepatitis C, portal hypertension - all of these liver diseases increase the risk for hypersplenism. Such conditions increase the blood pressure inside the spleen and thus increase the risk of an enlarged spleen.
If the spleen enlarges beyond a certain level, it can create pressure on the surrounding tissues and organs and turn painful. The pain of hypersplenism is often described as that of fullness and discomfort on the left part of the chest and abdomen. But in many cases, it might not be painful at all.
The human spleen is an organ completely dedicated to regulating immune responses within the body. When you catch malaria, the spleen generates immune signals to fight the disease-causing parasite. In case of frequent bouts of malaria over a long period of time, the spleen becomes massively over-worked and enlarged. This is also known as tropical splenomegaly syndrome.

What Is The Spleen?

The spleen is an important lymphatic organ that performs a number of diverse functions. One of its main functions is to filter out worn out cells, bacteria and foreign contaminants from the bloodstream. Old red blood cells filtered out in this way still contain hemoglobin which is then metabolized or broken down by the spleen. This organ also contributes towards maintaining your immunity. It does so by producing new white blood cells and keeping them in store, ready to be released in the event of infection or injury. Your spleen also produces certain kinds of antibodies, substances that play an important role in disabling pathogens.

Hence, any disorder or disease that affects or damages your spleen can impair all of these important functions. Often, the spleen is adversely affected by liver disease or by severe infection. When the organ is overworked, it can become abnormally enlarged. This condition is known as splenomegaly and it can lead to further complications. One of the main features of splenomegaly is Hypersplenism.

What Is Hypersplenism?

Hypersplenism locationOne of the adverse outcomes of having an enlarged spleen is that the organ becomes hyperactive. Accordingly, this condition is known as hypersplenism. While its normal function involves filtering out worn-out blood cells, an overactive spleen will decommission blood cells at an abnormally rapid rate, even pulling out or sequestering healthy ones from the bloodstream. Since the enlarged spleen keeps blood cells trapped for extended periods of time, the overall result is a deficit of healthy blood corpuscles in circulation.

This shortage of blood corpuscles is known as cytopenia and it can take different forms depending on which type of blood cell is involved. The deficit of red blood cells is known as anemia. Shortage of white blood cells is called leukopenia and the shortage of platelets is known as thrombopenia.

What Causes Hypersplenism?

To put it simply, a larger spleen is a more active spleen. What a healthy spleen can achieve in a certain amount of time can be achieved by an enlarged one in a shorter period of time. Most often, splenomegaly is associated with liver problems but there can be other causes as well. For instance, having an autoimmune disorder, or an inflammatory disease like lupus can lead to enlargement of the spleen as a result of inflammation.

Any condition that forces the spleen to work overtime could be responsible for splenomegaly. For instance, when a person is suffering from blood cancer, their blood contains an unusually large quantity of abnormal cells that the spleen must work extra hard to filter out. Similarly, a severe infection destroys large numbers of white blood cells. Hence, the spleen must work harder than usual to get rid of this cellular debris and even any microbes that might be present in the blood.

What Are The Risk Factors?

Hypersplenism spleenAny scenario that puts you at risk of developing splenomegaly is, by extension, also a risk factor for hypersplenism. Some of these are listed below:

  • Infections including viral diseases such as infectious mononucleosis, bacterial infections such as syphilis, tuberculosis, and endocarditis as well as infectious parasitic diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis.
  • Liver disease such as cirrhosis, viral hepatitis, Budd-Chiari syndrome, cystic fibrosis and portal hypertension.
  • Anemia associated with conditions like hereditary spherocytosis, thalassemia and sickle cell disease.
  • Metabolic disorders such as Gaucher disease and amyloidosis.
  • Tumors in the spleen or those that have extended to the spleen from other locations.
  • Cysts in the spleen.
  • Trauma to the spleen.
  • Heart failure.
  • Cancers including the various types of leukemias, lymphomas, and polycythemia vera.
  • Myeloproliferative disorders such as myelofibrosis.
  • Vascular conditions such as obstruction of the hepatic vein, portal vein or the splenic vein.
  • Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Certain medications or drugs.

What Are Some Symptoms Of Hypersplenism?

While white blood cells and platelets may be released safely after a temporary entrapment in the spleen, red blood cells that are trapped in the spleen will be broken down or ‘lysed’. This leads to a condition known as hemolytic anemia. If this becomes serious enough to be clinically significant, the patient will end up feeling tired, weak, and short of breath.  More symptoms are discussed below:

  • A sensation of fullness in the upper abdomen.
  • This may be accompanied by pain in the upper abdomen or the area of the back corresponding to the location of the spleen.
  • Feeling full without having eaten much. This happens because the distended spleen is putting pressure on the stomach.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Frequent infections.

What Are The Different Types Of Splenomegaly?

Depending on the nature of the process that leads to enlargement of the spleen, splenomegaly may be classified under a number of different headings, as described below in brief:

  • Infectious splenomegaly: As the name suggests, this condition arises on account of infectious diseases which cause the spleen to become overworked.
  • Inflammatory splenomegaly: In this case, the spleen is affected by autoimmune-related inflammation or even infection. Examples include diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Hyperplastic splenomegaly: Conditions such as myeloproliferative disorders or blood cancers can result in the formation of abnormal blood cells. An important part of the spleen’s role is to remove such abnormal cells from circulation. In the process, the organ itself becomes affected.
  • Congestive splenomegaly: This can develop when the patient is suffering from conditions that obstruct normal blood circulation. This includes liver- and related disorders such as cirrhosis and portal hypertension. It can also develop in the event of blood clots in the splenic, hepatic or portal veins.
  • Infiltrative splenomegaly: This is normally associated with storage disorders or metabolic disorders like Gaucher disease and amyloidosis.

What Are Some Critical Consequences Of Hypersplenism?

Likely complications are discussed below:

  • Frequent infections: If there is a significant deficit of white blood cells, immunity becomes weak and the body is more susceptible to infections.
  • Splenic rupture: The abnormally enlarged spleen is vulnerable and can rupture. Hence, patients with this condition are advised not to unduly exert themselves and to avoid participating in activities such as contact sports.
  • Death of tissue: Normal blood supply may fail to keep up with the requirements of the enlarged organ. As a consequence, parts of spleen tissue may die off.

How Can It Be Diagnosed And Treated?

Hypersplenism removalIn a healthy individual, the spleen is a small organ that cannot be felt by palpating the abdomen.

However, if the spleen is significantly enlarged, it may be palpable. The patient may also have other typical signs of cytopenias such as anemia.

Pallor of skin and breathlessness indicate a shortage of red blood cells.

Frequent and recurring infections indicate a weak immunity. In order to resolve this problem, it is important to discover the underlying cause.

The patient may undergo the following procedures as part of diagnosis:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • Blood tests to check for signs of infections or metabolic disorders that may be responsible.
  • Urine tests can also indicate infections.
  • Ultrasound imaging.
  • Computerized tomography (CT).
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Liver function tests.
  • Tissue biopsy.

To treat hypersplenism, it is important to correctly diagnose the underlying condition. Upon treating the real cause behind hypersplenism, the symptoms can be reduced. This will also prevent further destruction of the RBCs and/or enlargement of the spleen. Splenic ablation (removal of spleen by surgery or radiation) is performed if no other method gives a positive result.

The most common symptom of hypersplenism is anemia. This is because an enlarged spleen causes widespread breakdown of RBCs. This can further cause fatigue and shortness of breath. Other symptoms of hypersplenism are- pain in the left abdomen, feeling of fullness in the said region, recurring (or frequent) infections, and general weakness. However, in many cases hypersplenism might not result in any noticeable symptoms at all.
Hypersplenism or enlarged spleen can occur due to a variety of reasons such as viral infections, metabolic disorders, trauma to the spleen, etc. It has been observed that a number of liver conditions can also cause hypersplenism. Liver cirrhosis, hepatitis C, portal hypertension - all of these liver diseases increase the risk for hypersplenism. Such conditions increase the blood pressure inside the spleen and thus increase the risk of an enlarged spleen.
If the spleen enlarges beyond a certain level, it can create pressure on the surrounding tissues and organs and turn painful. The pain of hypersplenism is often described as that of fullness and discomfort on the left part of the chest and abdomen. But in many cases, it might not be painful at all.
The human spleen is an organ completely dedicated to regulating immune responses within the body. When you catch malaria, the spleen generates immune signals to fight the disease-causing parasite. In case of frequent bouts of malaria over a long period of time, the spleen becomes massively over-worked and enlarged. This is also known as tropical splenomegaly syndrome.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Consume foods which are healthy for your liver, if liver inflammation is the cause for hypersplenism.
  • In case of splenectomy, the person’s immunity greatly reduces so it becomes important to keep up with regular vaccinations.
Don'ts
  • Readily opt for splenectomy, as this makes an individual more vulnerable to serious infections.
  • Stop antibiotic medication dosage abruptly. Complete the drug course.

 

 

 

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Sushi: health benefits and recipes Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish prepared with vinegared rice served with fish (often raw), vegetables, and other…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
50 common health conditions
What are the top 50 deadly and widespread diseases? A complete list of the top 50 most common and deadly diseases that plague humanity. Which disease is…
Stye : The best natural home remedies to ease the pain Styes developing inside the eyelid tend to be more painful whereas external styes are less painful and ooze…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
Sputum test Sputum test is a commonly used diagnostic tool that is used to examine the presence of pathogens in…
Sweeteners-good or bad?
Sweeteners – Are They Good or Bad for Our Health? Sweeteners can be artificial and natural. Learn about the different types of sweeteners and their health benefits and…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
CBC blood test
CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test CBC (Hemogram 6-part diff) blood test refers to the test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
Gynecomastia or male breast enlargement
Gynecomastia Gynecomastia is the enlargement of the male breasts. Learn about the treatment options, surgeries, and post-op care for…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Did you know vitamin E can fight these fatal diseases? Vitamin E, an essential fat-soluble vitamin, is key to building strong immunity, for healthy eyes, and skin. It…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
PULMONARY EMBOLISM
IVC Filter Implantation IVC or inferior vena cava implantation is a minimally-invasive procedure to arrest blood clots and prevent them from…
Cellphones and Human Brain
Cellphones and Human Brain – Are Cellphones a Slow Poison to Our Brains? Cellphones have become an intricate part of our lives but they can be highly addictive and overuse can…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
Hysteroscopy_procedure
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive tool to help specialists view the uterus to diagnose and even treat several…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Threatened abortion
A few facts about threatened abortion A threatened miscarriage indicates an early pregnancy loss. Look out for symptoms like bleeding, vaginal discharge, and pain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
Splenda
Splenda Splenda is an artificial sweetener derived from Stevia plant extracts. It is low in calories and a popular…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Aphasia brain scans
Neuroendoscopy Neuroendoscopy is a minimally-invasive surgery used to treat disorders of brain, spine, head, etc.
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
Pelvic_ultrasound
Pelvic Ultrasound Pelvic ultrasound is a process where sound waves are used to create image of your pelvic region organs…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
anti-chlamydia antibody tets
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody -IgG Test Anti-Chlamydia Antibody - IgG test is performed by collection of urine or genital fluids as sample for testing…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
angiography
Angiography Angiography is a diagnostic tool used to determine the narrowing or blockage in the arteries and veins supplying…
Proteinuria and blood pressure
Hypertension Profile Hypertension profile is a panel of blood tests done to analyse the cause of hypertension or high blood…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
breast-surgery-2
Breast Augmentation Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure done to alter the shape and size of the breast. It uses…
Low carb diet
8 appetizing and mouth-watering recipes that every low-carb dieter should try Looking for delicious recipes that will fix your hunger pang without adding those pesky carbs? Look no further…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…

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Test Your Knowledge

Welcome to your Vital Organ Quiz

Which organ is responsible for filtering blood?
Cochlea is a part of which organ?
What percentage of the human body is water?
Which organ stores bile?
Humans can live without a spleen.
Which female organ produces eggs?
Which lung is wider?
Ganglia are a part of which system?
Which is the smallest organ in the human body?
Rod and cone cells are a part of which organ?

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