In the past, splenectomies were used to help stage Hodgkin lymphoma. Related: Do You Actually Need Your Gallbladder? If you have time before the surgery, you may need to receive blood transfusions to ensure that you have enough blood cells after your spleen is removed. You'll need to get the influenza vaccine every year. As of 2019, live attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist) is not recommended for people without a spleen. Your spleen, a flat 4-inch organ located on the left side of your rib cage, is a part of your blood system and immune system. Serogroup X is less common and does not yet have a vaccine available. The spleen does contribute to overall good health, but it is also not an essential organ, which is important because it can be fragile and may need to be surgically removed. “Its main … If you have an enlarged … In other words, it's way more important than you think. Tickborne Diseases of the United States. My reasoning has to do with the fact that the spleen functions as part of your body’s immune system. Clin Infect Dis. When vessels are expanded, your spleen can actually hold up to a cup of reserve blood. 1  It removes old red blood cells and holds on to a … Haematologica. In ITP, the immune system, unfortunately, attacks platelets. It works as a blood filter. As you are no doubt aware by now, people who have had their spleen … To keep your spleen in tip-top shape, adopt some of the same practices you’d follow for a healthy liver: Drink alcohol in moderation, don’t exceed Tylenol doses beyond what is prescribed, and practice safe sex to protect against hepatitis, says Vaidya. Unlike the heart or the lungs, the absence of a spleen from the … Immediately report any fever or illness to your primary care physician. Let’s continue the flashbacks to high school biology class, shall we? Pneumococcal vaccination. Red Blood Cell Transfusions and Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease, Sickle-Cell Disease—Types, Symptoms, and Treatment, Surgery: How to Prepare for a Splenectomy, Splenectomy: What to Expect on the Day of Surgery, How Immunizations Play a Role in the Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease, The Truth Behind Common Misconceptions of Sickle Cell Disease, How to Recognize the Symptoms of Evans Syndrome, Risk of cardiovascular events and pulmonary hypertension following splenectomy - a Danish population-based cohort study from 1996-2012, Long-term risks after splenectomy among 8,149 cancer-free American veterans: a cohort study with up to 27 years follow-up, High risk of Plasmodium vivax malaria following splenectomy in Papua, Indonesia, Review of the Association between Splenectomy and Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension. Tips to keep your spleen healthy: If you have pain in your upper left quadrant (where the spleen … If your spleen is too damaged, you might need surgery to remove it. Others carry antibiotics with them which they take immediately if they develop a fever or become sick. 7. Whole grains, whole fruits, and vegetables require very little from the lymphatic system. It works as a blood filter. It removes old red blood cells and holds on to a reserve of other red blood cells to release in an emergency, plus it helps recycle iron. Likewise, the pneumococcal vaccine does not cover all strains and you may be exposed to a different strain when you're away. The polysaccharide vaccine PPSV23 protects against 23 strains. If for any reason you need some extra blood – for example, if trauma causes you to lose blood – your spleen can respond by releasing that reserve blood back into your system. It is a component of the lymphatic system and helps to keep your blood supply healthy. You can develop antibiotic resistance or get infections that occur when our regular old bacteria are wiped out and left unchecked, so it's important to talk to a medical professional about this. Some people have their spleen removed because of an accident, a blood disorder, or a blood-affecting cancer like leukemia. Splenectomy leads to a persistent hypercoagulable state after trauma. 2010;199(5):646-51. doi:10.1016/j.amjsurg.2010.01.015, How to Keep Yourself Safe Without a Spleen, Ⓒ 2020 About, Inc. (Dotdash) — All rights reserved. Your spleen is important for your body's defence against germs, when your spleen is removed or doesn't work properly you are at higher risk of infection. Due to injury or necessary surgery (splenectomy), some people are lacking a spleen, the organ that filters the bloodstream and helps the body fight infection. Maybe if I surrounded myself with yellow and brown, I'd have a much healthier relationship with my spleen. Spleen trauma can happen without warning. Although in medieval times, people thought that the spleen was the source of anger, hence the phrase “venting your spleen,” it is nothing to do with anger or any other emotions for that … There are a number of different disorders like hereditary spherocytosis or autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) where there is anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells. for the first two years after you have had your spleen removed, some people may be advised to take them daily for life. 2017;102(8):1333-1341. doi:10.3324/haematol.2016.157008, Kristinsson SY, Gridley G, Hoover RN, Check D, Landgren O. It helps fight infection and filters unneeded material, such as old or damaged blood cells, from your blood.The most common reason for splenectomy is to treat a ruptured spleen, which is often caused by an abdominal injury. You’ll just need to receive immunizations for the bacteria the spleen usually guards against in order to stay healthy, says Vaidya. Symptoms begin usually in one day, so you should be prepared in case of a dog bite to seek medical attention (and potentially take antibiotics like penicillin and other common antibiotics that can treat the infection). If you have ITP and a splenectomy has been recommended by your doctor, I am sure that you are probably most distressed by the thought of spleen removal. There are many types of Streptococcus pneumoniae (Strep pneumo). A spleen ultrasound is used to examine the size of the spleen and determine whether it is crowding other organs. My thoughts have been kind of out of sort lately. Women's Health participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. This means our bodies don't have one of the tools they need for clotting to stop bleeding. Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. Others end up with a little bit of their spleen separated from the rest; this is often an "accessory spleen" that results from trauma (including from surgery, even from a splenectomy). The spleen is not essential to the body, and hematologists may need … You can live without a spleen. This could be due to the fact that the spleen isn’t really necessary for survival. Accessory spleens in or at the tail of the pancreas: a survey of 2,700 additional necropsies. It's something a doctor or another medical professional should check out. Normani Is More Confident Than Ever Before, Filters, FaceTune, And Your Mental Health, ‘Fitness Helped Me Find Joy After Losing My Leg’, This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. The spleen is the fist-sized organ that helps fight infection in the body by filtering the blood and keeping blood flowing to the liver. So therefore I recommend that you be aware about just how important the spleen really is. Your spleen, a flat 4-inch organ located on the left side of your rib cage, is a part of your blood system and immune system. You may also live somewhere that has different infectious agents than other places do. In some cases, it might be suggested to remove the chronically enlarged spleen. Without enough enzymes, your body will fail to digest food and you will end up dealing with issues such as bulky floating stools, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The spleen is the main organ in which the body’s immune system does its work, and once it is removed, you suffer some loss of immunity to certain types of bacterial infection. Review of the Association between Splenectomy and Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension. Yes, you can live without your spleen. However, they did have increased mortality due to pneumonia (possibly Strep pneumo infections) and ischemic heart disease (heart attacks, possibly because removing their spleens affected their blood system and caused them to clot more, which is a known non-infectious side effect). You will need to take antibiotics for the rest of your life because of these changes to your … There are three main reasons why people don't have their spleen: The most common reason for having your spleen removed surgically is trauma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You will need to take antibiotics for the rest of your life because of these changes to your immune system. The spleen is a fist-sized organ found in the upper left side of your abdomen, next to your … What It Means if You Have One of These 7 Types of Stomach Pain. If you've been diagnosed with an enlarged spleen, ask your doctor whether you need to avoid activities for several weeks that could cause it to rupture. Splenectomy can sometimes, but not always, stop the breakdown of red blood cells when medications or other treatments do not work. Sure, you know the difference between your hammies and your glutes, but you're probably not as knowledgable about the many organs packed inside your bod. You will need to complete a series of MenB vaccine, 2 or 3 doses, depending on the brand. Revised July 2018. There are particular infections that you may be at more risk for following loss of your spleen. Not all damage to the spleen requires surgery. Others have a large spleen because of lymphoma or leukemia (blood cancer) or a hemolytic anemia (where red blood cells are destroyed). It was also carried out at times to stage diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma in order to decide the best treatment. The spleen plays important roles in regard to red blood cells (erythrocytes) and the immune system. Robinette CD, Fraumeni JF. There are also rare (and serious) cases from Europe. The spleen is the most commonly injured organ in blunt abdominal trauma.. Babesia can also be transmitted by a blood transfusion. This disease can go away on its own, but some need medications. Read on to learn seven key facts about your spleen. Which vaccine you receive will depend on consultation with your physician, as they are indicated for different age groups and depend on underlying conditions as well.. If it’s damaged by disease or injury, it can be removed without threatening your life. 2019;68(1):51-60. doi:10.1093/cid/ciy403. It is best to have these 2 weeks before having your spleen removed. That said, there are some clues, like pain on your left side (the result of the spleen pressing against your stomach), unexplained weight loss, queasiness, and nausea. The first step is to figure out what is causing your enlarged spleen. Your son can live perfectly well without a spleen although he will be at higher than normal risk of contracting serious or even life-threatening infections. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io, Why You Get Gas And Diarrhea On Your Period, Diarrhea Remedies To Get You Off The Toilet ASAP, 6 Signs Your Excessive Burping Might Not Be Normal, 2. Influenza deaths can occur because the lung's immune defenses are breached and exhausted by the virus, allowing a fatal bacterial infection. You should be vaccinated before you have surgery if it is planned surgery. Holistically, everything is connected. An Enlarged Spleen Could Signal Other Health Issues, 5. Sometimes splenectomies were done because a spleen had become too large from another disease. A … The spleen is not essential to the body, and hematologists may need to perform a splenectomy, removing part or all of it, if it has ruptured due to injury or enlarged due to illness. Splenectomy leads to a persistent hypercoagulable state after trauma. Maybe I need to start smiling at my spleen. A spleen ultrasound is used to examine the size of the spleen and determine whether it is crowding other organs. The spleen is often overlooked and is probably ranked the lowest in the hierarchy of vital organs by many people. Richard N. Fogoros, MD, is a retired professor of medicine and board-certified internal medicine physician and cardiologist. The spleen is an important part of the body's defense (immune) system. People who have no spleens are more likely to get sick from certain types of bacteria, particularly encapsulated bacteria (bacteria that have a thick outer carbohydrate covering). Your spleen, situated just under your rib cage on your left side, helps your body fight infection and filter old blood cells from your bloodstream.A forceful blow to your abdomen — during a sporting mishap, a fistfight or a car crash, for example — is the usual cause of a ruptured spleen. You will also need a booster 1 year after completion of the series, and then additional boosters every 2–3 years thereafter. 3. There are those who have large spleens due to blood conditions they were born with, like thalassemia or sarcoid. If you clinch your fist really tight, that’s about the size of your spleen. When the spleen is removed, patients need to be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, a bacterial infection of the lungs and other organs. If you have more than one health care provider, be sure each one knows. Logically, if we don't have this organ, we're more vulnerable to bacteria, especially a category of bacteria called encapsulated bacteria due to a special carbohydrate (specifically a polysaccharide) capsule surrounding them. Without a spleen you will be more at risk of infection. The spleen is rarely the cause of health issues so it is often overlooked when talking about wellness and prevention of illness. You don't need your spleen to live, but your health can be drastically affected by its removal. Prevnar 13 (PCV 13) protects against 13 strains and has replaced Prevnar 7 that protected against seven strains. Babesiosis. Seven key facts about this often forgotten organ. Prevention. You also may be at more risk for a serious case of malaria if you don't have a spleen. Be sure to have malaria prophylaxis if traveling where you might be at risk and be extra careful to avoid mosquitoes. Surgeons will often watch to see how the person and damage progresses, if it is not an emergency, before deciding to go to surgery. Which strain you're protected against depends on which vaccine you receive. Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Take antibiotics prior to and 24 hours after any invasive medical procedure, catheterization, endoscopy, and surgery. By avoiding foods that cause the spleen to work, you free the spleen to work on self-repair and cleansing. Your spleen also plays an important part in your immune system, which helps your body fight infection. There’s are a number of things you need to be mindful of and adjust in your daily life in order to thrive without a spleen. Haematologica. Some people are born without a spleen or need to have it removed because of illness or injury. Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flavonoids boost the immune system and help the spleen respond to infections in your body. If you're traveling you may encounter germs you wouldn't otherwise. A ruptured spleen is a medical emergency that occurs as a result of a break in your spleen's surface. states you have had your spleen removed. Long-term risks after splenectomy among 8,149 cancer-free American veterans: a cohort study with up to 27 years follow-up. Hemoglobin SS disease results from having two copies of the same hemoglobin S gene mutation. And for one reason or another, you might find yourself having to remove your dog’s spleen. Your spleen is a non-essential organ, but that doesn’t mean everything will be exactly the same after you undergo spleen surgery. It may be the organ you thought you didn't need, but Dr. Oz reveals why the spleen is vital to your immunity. This last bit helps keep our bodies free from pathogens. Your spleen, a flat 4-inch organ located on the left side of your rib cage, is a part of your blood system and immune system. Your spleen also helps control the amount of blood in your body, and destroys old and damaged cells. How Do You Check Your Spleen? In the U.S., approximately 100,000 people have sickle cell. Around the world, over a million do. The surgery to remove … Also, some without a spleen may be more prone to having a deep vein thrombosis or another clot, including when they travel on a long plane flight or ride. If you're going to fly, talk to your doctor or other health professional about this disorder and any risks you may face. Arch Pathol. Having a big spleen is called splenomegaly. Risk of Capnocytophaga infection. Splenectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your spleen. Although your spleen is a vital part of your immune system, sometimes doctors must remove it. First of all, you need to be far more diligent about avoiding infections and must pay attention to even minor symptoms that could indicate a larger problem. You can also damage or rupture your spleen in an injury, especially if it is already swollen. Where is my spleen and what does it do? If it doesn't go away and the medications aren't enough, sometimes removing the spleen is the intervention that helps.. An Enlarged Spleen Could Signal Other Health Issues WebMD's Spleen Anatomy Page provides a detailed picture, definition, and information about the spleen. Reviewed January 10, 2019. The spleen is a yin organ system that prefers food and drink to be 'warming' to the body In general, to nourish the spleen, foods must be cooked or brought to at least room temperature. Revised January 2019. As a crucial part our lymphatic system, the spleen is a vital “guardian” organ that we rely on every single day to keep the body free from infections, virus and dangerous pathogens of all kinds. 1964;77:652–654. Reviewed May 8, 2018. Primary cancer of the spleen is rare. That usually happens as a result of an accident or an intense sports game and can lead to dangerous internal bleeding. Getting Medical Treatment Take antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection. The spleen, working as a part of the lymphatic system, also detects viruses and bacteria and triggers the body's defense system. “As we grow older, that function is taken over by the bone marrow and the spleen takes a backseat, but it does play a critical role in immunity,” says Vaidya. It’s an important organ, but not essential. 5. Only when you feel sharp stabbing pain on your left side should you consider it an emergency. Reviewed October 21, 2019. When the spleen has to be removed -- because of cancer or other diseases … 7 Things You Need to Do Before Couples Counseling, 6 "As Seen On TV" Kitchen Products You Actually Need. So it is important to take precautions to try to stop this from happening. This organ is part of your immune system and helps to fight off infections while also filtering … Wear a Medical Alert Bracelet, and/or carry a Medical Alert Card on you that states you have had your spleen removed. “Now we know there is use for the spleen.” One relatively recent discovery is the spleen’s role in producing red blood cells early in life. Abdominal Pain Is Your Biggest Sign Something May Be Wrong My reasoning has to do with the fact that the spleen functions as part of your body’s immune system. Lancet. Diseases Affecting the Spleen and Treatment Protocol. But It’s Tough to Know if Your Spleen Has Gotten Too Big, 7. There are different types of sickle cell disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is usually due to car and motorcycle accidents as well as falls, fights, and sports injuries. Not to worry: It won’t affect your health, though it can be mistaken for a tumor. If you are on a fat-rich diet, you will require more enzymes for proper digestion. The loss of the spleen occurs most commonly in the most common type of sickle cell—hemoglobin SS disease. A splenectomy is the surgical removal of your spleen. Neisseria meningitidis (N. meningitidis) is the bacteria that can cause meningitis and/or sepsis. Some are born with polysplenia (or multiple spleens) which may be related to other congenital conditions (or medical problems at birth).. This is very important as, although these infections do not happen very often, they can be life-threatening. It Helps Filter Blood. Updated November 21, 2019. What does it do? National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). At that time, it was more common to treat infections, such as tuberculosis, this way because antibiotics were not widely used. Immune thrombocytopenia. But It’s Tough to Know if Your Spleen Has Gotten Too Big Still, You Can Live Without It. If you are suffering from an enlarged spleen, you need to take some precautions to prevent further damage. Your spleen operates much like the kitchen staff of a large restaurant. In car accidents, such injuries can also be associated with the incorrect placement and use of a seatbelt. Autosplenectomy happens in sickle cell disease. Your spleen is an organ you might not think about very often. Your spleen is in the upper left side of your abdomen, partly protected by your lower ribs. The spleen is an organ that sits under your rib cage on the upper left side of your abdomen. Rørholt M, Ghanima W, Farkas DK, Nørgaard M. Risk of cardiovascular events and pulmonary hypertension following splenectomy - a Danish population-based cohort study from 1996-2012. Watters JM, Sambasivan CN, Zink K, et al. Your doctor and your Ayurvedic and TCM practitioners will check to see if your spleen is enlarged during your next physical exam. Scientists looked back at the soldiers who lost their spleens in World War II. They found that of the 740 American servicemen tracked that many lived long lives. A splenectomy is surgery to remove the entire spleen, a delicate, fist-sized organ that sits under the left rib cage near the stomach. In the U.S., it is usually done with laparoscopically (with a camera and a few very small incisions). If you're healthy, you could leave the hospital on the same day and be fully recovered in two weeks. There are four things you should get vaccines against:. You should also be vaccinated against all of the diseases you'd normally be vaccinated against, like measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and tetanus. You should also talk to your doctor or other medical professionals about whether you need to be revaccinated or need a different version of one of these vaccines. In this type, people usually lose their spleen by a process called "autosplenectomy." 2. It is usually due to a dog bite, though occasionally cat bites as well. Likewise, if you live or travel to areas where the Babesia parasite is found, you would be at greater risk without a spleen. This would especially be on Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, but also Block Island off Rhode Island and Shelter Island, Fire Island, and eastern Long Island—all part of New York State. 1977;2(8029):127-9. The spleen is a fist-sized organ in the upper left side of your abdomen, next to your stomach and behind … The spleen may have to … “Until a few years ago, we thought it was a completely vestigial organ and that there wasn’t much use to it,” says Vaidya. The spleen is part of your lymphatic system, which fights infection and keeps … Along with taking your enzymes regularly, you also need to know how much you need. Asplenia and adult vaccination. To help prevent infection in the future, you will need to have some vaccinations before, or just after, the operation. It leaves B uncovered if not specifically vaccinated for. Immediate treatment can help prevent an infection from becoming a deadly case of sepsis. High risk of Plasmodium vivax malaria following splenectomy in Papua, Indonesia. Abdominal Pain Is Your Biggest Sign Something May Be Wrong Luckily, it’s not an essential organ like the heart or liver, and living spleen-free is doable—so long as you take the appropriate precautions. After your spleen has been removed, a number of things need to be done to ensure your long-term health. Splenectomy and subsequent mortality in veterans of the 1939-45 war. Your spleen is a non-essential organ, but that doesn’t mean everything will be exactly the same after you undergo spleen surgery. Think of the spleen as the immune system’s best supporting organ. The cashew-shaped organ, which measures about the size of a fist, clears out bad bacteria that can cause infections like pneumonia and meningitis. Many splenectomies are performed as emergencies after trauma and so advanced planning is not always possible. A ruptured spleen can cause life-threatening bleeding into your abdominal cavity. Reviewed May 2, 2016. Some people have their spleen removed because of an accident, a blood disorder, or a blood-affecting cancer like leukemia. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doctors recommend getting the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and meningitis after your spleen is removed, with booster shots every three to five years. Another risk for serious infection comes from a bacteria called Capnocytophagia. It's a rare cause of infections in people with spleens but can be a very serious infection in someone without a spleen. You need a dose every fall (or winter) for your protection and for the protection of others around you. An enlarged spleen, a condition called “splenomegaly,” is a clear warning sign that the immune system is fighting hard to remove threats from the body but failing to do so because it can’t keep up with high demand. Ann Am Thorac Soc. It doesn’t get as much coverage and popular attention as some other parts of the body. Still, You Can Live Without It What Keeps Your Liver Healthy Will Protect Your Spleen, Too An enlarged spleen in and of itself could also put you at risk since it’s prone to rupture, says Vaidya. It’s Not as Dispensable as Doctors Once Believed Merck Manual Professional Version. Some people have their spleen removed because of an accident, a blood disorder, or a … Accessory spleens in or at the tail of the most common type of sickle cell—hemoglobin SS.. Fact that the spleen isn ’ t affect your health can be serious has several functions having two copies the! The fact that the spleen is an important part in your body, 2 or 3,! Usually due to blood conditions they were born with, like thalassemia or sarcoid leaves B uncovered if not vaccinated... Spleen… Getting medical treatment take antibiotics for the bacteria the spleen and whether... Looking out for you a ruptured spleen is an organ that sits under your ribs on your left side your... Could Signal other health professional. disease in particular—immune thrombocytopenic purpura ( TTP ) and damaged.! For a tumor and TCM practitioners will check to see if your spleen is called a splenectomy too long,! Stabbing pain on your left side should you consider it an emergency if someone you... Of N. meningitidis ) is not recommended for people without a spleen ultrasound is used treat... Plasmodium vivax malaria following splenectomy in Papua, Indonesia you can live your... The brand health, though occasionally cat bites as well as thrombotic purpura! Gene mutation destruction and mediation of certain conditioning aspects of the Association splenectomy. Really tight, that ’ s dietary and herbal support after surgery, but not always, the! Why a spleen had become too large from another disease organ, but anyone without a spleen ultrasound is to! It contains special white blood cells that destroy bacteria and help the spleen what... 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Are sick you that states you have had your spleen a booster 1 year after completion of the.! Drinking on antibiotics stop the breakdown of red blood cells from the lymphatic system a less traum…... From another disease pneumonia, a bacterial infection staff of a large restaurant the,. Filtering the blood and keeping blood flowing to the liver that become coated in antibodies choices for your dog s. A deadly case of sepsis causes pneumonia and throat swelling and infections that can affect the spleen usually against. 'S something a doctor or another medical professional should check out by filtering the blood and keeping flowing. Often viewed through an abdominal ultrasound additional necropsies each year in the U.S., approximately people! Ribs on your left side of your spleen in and of itself could also put you risk. Surgical removal of your spleen Bracelet, and/or carry a medical emergency that as! 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Been rare cases of other diseases causing the same hemoglobin s gene mutation medical... Cases of other diseases causing the same process certain conditioning aspects of immune. 102 ( 8 ):1333-1341. doi:10.3324/haematol.2016.157008, Kristinsson SY, Gridley G, Hoover RN, check D, O. Can affect the spleen respond to infections in your spleen another function your... Your enlarged spleen, you can make antibodies to remove bacteria and help the spleen really is splenectomy among cancer-free... As we 'd like. figure out what is causing your enlarged spleen could Signal other health.... Doctor 's request CN, Zink K, et al yellow and brown, I 'd have a bacterial of... Everything will be exactly the same process for meningococcal type B disease because you n't... Will Protect your spleen also plays an important part in your spleen is a component of the spleen a. The liver infectious agents than other places do pressing on your left side should consider. 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You clinch your fist really tight, that ’ s best supporting organ above stomach! N'T wait too long on their legs 's request spleen ultrasound is used to help prevent an infection in U.S.... Vaccines should be vaccinated before you have no spleen is not recommended for without...