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How do you treat a swollen spleen?

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Quick Answer

In the least serious cases, an enlarged spleen, or splenomegaly, is treated by addressing the underlying symptoms, according to Merck. When the condition causes severe symptoms, such as internal bleeding or infection, physicians may surgically remove the spleen or use radiation therapy to shrink it before extraction. Patients are also advised to avoid contact sports to prevent bleeding and tearing in the spleen.

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The spleen produces white blood cells that help clear bacteria, foreign bodies and dead tissue from the bloodstream, making the organ vulnerable to contaminants, WebMD states. Blood diseases, liver diseases, cancer, cysts, inflammatory conditions, injuries and infections, such as mononucleosis and endocarditis, can cause the spleen to expand. The condition typically causes pain and discomfort on the left side of the abdomen, and individuals may feel unusually full when eating meals.

An enlarged spleen can also trigger other conditions as it worsens. For example, a person may develop anemia if the enlarged spleen fills up with too many red blood cells, starting a cycle of unhealthy growth, Merck states. Sections of spleen tissue may bleed or die, and the spleen can expand until it crowds nearby organs. Decreases in white-blood-cell production open the door to dangerous infections, and patients who undergo a spleen removal must be vaccinated annually against common bacteria, including Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae.

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