An enlarged spleen, or splenomegaly, consists of an increase in the size of the organ. Here we will give a complete guide about what foods to avoid with an enlarged spleen?
In itself, it is not a disease but the manifestation of other more or less serious pathologies or disorders.
It is very common for this to be a completely asymptomatic condition and, at least in its early stages, is usually discovered by the doctor during a routine visit.
Not infrequently, moreover, the disorder is detected during an ultrasound of the abdomen for another diagnostic path.
The spleen is palpable on examination when it has already reached at least double its normal volume.
The Functions Of The Enlarged Spleen
The spleen is located in the upper left part of the abdomen. Do you have in mind that part of the body that hurts you when, for example, you run for a certain distance?
The zone is that, and that pain may be due to the fact that during training, the muscles need more oxygen, which is carried by the red blood cells.
In practice, it is as if the spleen is squeezed for more blood and red blood cells. But don’t worry, a few minutes of rest is enough to make the pain go away without further measures.
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The spleen is an unequal internal organ, meaning you only have one. It has an ovoid shape, a purplish red color, and a rather soft texture.
The spleen is about 12 centimeters long and weighs 200 grams in men and 168 grams in women. The weight, however, can vary: it decreases with increasing age and increases in the presence of some cardiovascular or infectious diseases, such as mononucleosis.
The function of the spleen is to provide for the metabolism of iron; it is also the site of the formation, accumulation, and destruction of blood cells (destroys aged red blood cells).
It also destroys bacteria and accumulates large amounts of platelets which pours into the circulation when needed.
For this reason, it also plays a fundamental role in the immune system. The spleen is an organ of the abdomen, has a typical spongy consistency, and is located to the stomach’s left. Among its functions, all negatively influenced by the enlargement of the organ, are listed:
- activates blood filtration to clean it of aged and no longer active red blood cells;
- production of white blood cells, that is, it is an active organ for the efficiency of the immune defenses;
- dynamic reserve of iron and white blood cells and platelets.
The most serious problem related to this organ is the rupture, but the other very serious pathology from which you can be affected is that of the enlarged spleen, the medical term of which is splenomegaly.
The symptoms of this condition are few in reality: a pain in the upper left part of the abdomen, frequent hiccups, or inability to consume large meals. An enlarged spleen can originate from various pathologies. Let’s get to know them.
Enlargement of the spleen, together with that of the liver (hepatomegaly), is one of the symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Described on the AIRC website as “a hematological neoplasm consisting of an accumulation of lymphocytes in the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic organs (lymph nodes and spleen).” It affects about 5 in 100 thousand people every year, and the incidence increases with increasing age.
There is also a correlation between mononucleosis, the so-called “kissing disease,” and an enlarged spleen. According to what was reported, in fact, from the Niguarda Hospital website, one of the most serious complications of mononucleosis is the rupture of the spleen precisely because of its enlargement; it is a rather rare case, but it is always to be taken into consideration. That is why an enlarged spleen and other associated symptoms cannot be underestimated.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Another condition that can lead to splenomegaly is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a chronic autoimmune disease that causes widespread inflammation and severe damage to tissues and organs throughout the body. There is still no cure for this disease, which mainly affects young women between the ages of 20 and 30.
It is thought that the enlarged spleen can also be linked to celiac disease, i.e., intolerance towards gluten, but in truth, we speak more of hyposplenism, which indicates a malfunction of the spleen rather than an increase in its volume.
Gaucher disease is a very rare hereditary disease discovered in 1882 by physician Philippe Charles Ernest Gaucher in a patient who had an enlarged spleen and liver. It is a lysosomal storage disease caused by the lack of an enzyme ( glucocerebrosidase ) that does not allow the correct breakdown of glucocerebroside, a component of the cell membranes of red blood cells and white blood cells. The accumulation of Gaucher cells (macrophages enlarged by excess glucocerebroside) causes the spleen and liver to enlarge and malfunction.
Cirrhosis Of The Liver
A hardened liver associated with an enlarged spleen is a clear sign of liver cirrhosis, a disease that leads to liver tissue degeneration and which, as a direct consequence, can cause the organ to function poorly.
The thyroid disorders can cause problems related to digestion and, in general, the gastrointestinal system but seem to have no direct effects on the spleen. At the most, you will be able to hear about an enlarged thyroid gland, a characteristic sign of iodine deficiency, or of ongoing diseases such as Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease, or thyroid cancer.
With an inflamed spleen, we often find ourselves in the course of some routine checks. Many times we are not aware.
Anemia, exhaustion, sharp pain in the upper left abdomen, lack of appetite, wounds begin to bleed excessively.
In this case, antibiotic treatment is necessary if the inflamed spleen is caused by bacteria. In other cases, the treatments will be different and targeted. In severe circumstances, surgical treatment, which will include its removal, may be indicated.
However, it is advisable not to indulge in an incorrect diet, rather pursue a healthy and balanced diet consisting of vegetables, bluefish, tomato, avocado, yogurt, cereals, rice, legumes: a low-fat diet.
The most common symptoms of an enlarged spleen include:
- the difficulty of digestion
- the sensation of swelling to the touch in the direction of the position of the spleen
- pain on the left shoulder
- pain on the left side below the diaphragm
- a widespread feeling of tiredness
- unwarranted weight loss
- the color of the skin yellowed
- frequent infections (ear, urinary tract)
- pain when you breathe deeply
- blood in the stool
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What Foods To Avoid With An Enlarged Spleen
The foods you should limit in your diet are:
- packaged foods such as snacks, chips, snacks
- Limit cold foods, as moisture damages the spleen, so limit frozen drinks and all excessively cold foods, or at least warm each bite properly before swallowing.
- excess of raw vegetables
The important thing is to eliminate foods rich in fats and sugars that weigh down the digestive process and damage the spleen.
Fridge foods or an excess of raw vegetables can also cool the body, weakening the digestive fire.
When chewing raw foods, try to grind and chop them as much as possible, to properly heat the food bolus.
To fill up on nutrients, you can decide to use raw fruit and vegetable extracts.
Natural Remedies And Treatment
To treat an enlarged spleen, it is necessary to first understand the cause, because as we have seen at the origin, there can be various pathologies. If the enlargement of the spleen is due to a bacterial infection, the treatment will be based on antibiotics.
In more serious cases, radiotherapy is provided, which aims to decrease the size of the spleen, or it is possible to intervene with surgery to remove the spleen itself.
The recommendation is always to contact your doctor in the presence of suspicious symptoms, which, repetita iuvant, may be severe pain in the upper left abdomen or increased pain when breathing.
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Through massages with essential oils, to be practiced two or three times a day, it is possible to facilitate the drainage of the blood and thus reduce the pain of the spleen.
The cause that triggered the enlargement of the spleen must always be taken into account: massages with essential oils can simply soothe the pain, but it is clear to everyone that they hardly cure.
Diet And What To Eat
Reducing inflammation of the spleen through a healthier and more balanced diet is possible and certainly does not hurt.
It is essential to follow a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, while refined or poor quality foods, dairy products, soy-based foods, foods with gluten, and vegetable oils should be excluded from their eating habits. Better to prefer fruit and vegetables, dried fruit and fish.
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