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What does the Spleen do?

Niki Foster
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The function of the spleen, a lymphatic organ located in the abdominal cavity, was not known until fairly recently. Though the spleen and the "black bile" it secretes have had various meanings in the folk medicine of various cultures since ancient times, its actual functions remained a mystery until the mid-20th century. In humans, the spleen consists of two different tissue types — red pulp and white pulp — with two distinct functions.

In Ancient Greece, the spleen was believed to produce black bile or melancholy, one of the "four humours" that had to be balanced in the body for proper functioning. An excess of black bile was considered responsible for melancholia, a condition that is currently recognized as clinical depression. In traditional Chinese medicine, the spleen is said to influence one's temperament and willpower.

Today, the spleen is more completely understood. Red pulp, also called splenic pulp, consists of blood and reticular fibers. This portion of the human spleen helps to filter the blood, purging it of unwanted elements which contain red blood cells that have aged to the point of deterioration. White pulp, also called Malpighian bodies of the spleen or splenic lymphoid nodules, refers to small nodules within the spleen that are rich in lymphocytes and help to fight infection.

The spleen is a very important organ, and asplenia, a condition in which the spleen is not present either congenitally or due to removal in surgery, has been linked to an increased predisposition to certain infections. The spleen also serves as an emergency reservoir of blood. In some animals, it stores red blood cells, while in humans, it stores platelets, the clotting agent in blood.

The spleen also has a few minor functions. In the human fetus, the spleen is a secondary site of red blood cell production until the fifth month of gestation, though after birth, red blood cells are only produced in the bone marrow. Other metabolic products, however, are produced in the spleen throughout adulthood; namely, opsonins, properdin, and tuftsin.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Foster
By Niki Foster , Writer

In addition to her role as a TheHealthBoard editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

Discussion Comments

By anon953258 — On May 25, 2014

Can a person become a doctor if that person doesn't have a spleen?

By anon948645 — On May 01, 2014

My spleen is enlarged and due to that I ended up having gall stones. My doctor advised for removal of gallbladder and spleen at the same time. I am somewhat worried what could happen if removed both at the age of 27.

If any one of you had been removed spleen due to this specific reason, please let me know.

By anon358717 — On Dec 12, 2013

I had my spleen removed 38 years ago when I was 15. I have had quite a lot of health problems, although no doctor/practitioner has ever linked it to the spleen.

The worst problem I have has is a stuffed up, full feeling in my head. It does not sound too bad but it is not nice. I have had it since age 29. I am now 53. It switches off and on as if something is jamming in my head. Orthodontic dentist work has had a big positive effect on it.

By anon337141 — On Jun 03, 2013

I have a splenic cyst 4cm X 3cm and two surgeons told me to just "have it checked on" in six months. Is there anyone out there who has been living a normal life with splenic cysts?

By anon328694 — On Apr 05, 2013

I am a 26 year old male. My spleen is enlarged (I don't know why) and I am really worried. Will it need to be removed?

By anon295977 — On Oct 09, 2012

I had my spleen removed about three years after my then abusive boyfriend beat me up and I passed out at work a few days later and was rushed to ER where they thought I was going to die. I have had no real problems since then. I don't think I have even had a cold.

By anon277882 — On Jul 02, 2012

I had an operation last year for a hiatal hernia repair and the doctor nicked my spleen on the way out. The doctor then closed the wound. The next day I went into kidney failure. The doctor had to go back in to find out why. My chest cavity was filled with blood. They had to remove my spleen. Has anyone had numbness all over their body from a spleen removal?

By anon277556 — On Jun 30, 2012

I had my spleen removed to save my life in May 2010. I had cysts all over, in and out of my spleen, and they couldn't save it as they hoped. I went into shock and was given a hour to live if they had not taken my spleen out.

By anon276042 — On Jun 21, 2012

No one can predict how your body will react or cope when your spleen is removed for whatever reason. If for medical gain, it may be necessary or trauma, absolutely imperative, and life saving, but it does have many potential side effects, both short and long term.

I lost my spleen due to trauma five years ago and have suffered in so many ways. I had a permanent sore throat for the first two years and countless other infections, and lasting fatigue, especially during and after exercise, insomnia, stomach bugs including pneumonia, sepsis, etc.

I was previously very fit so it has been life changing, for sure. Is it to do with the missing spleen? Of course -- almost all of it, in fact. You expect the odd cold from time to time, or perhaps the flu once in a while, but not everything in a long line.

For a majority of people it seems that losing their spleen has no noticeable effects, but for a minority it does and for some it's severe. I take 250mg background penicillin twice a day and keep my emergency stronger dose with me at all times, or at least close at hand.

What do the doctors say? Nothing. They don't know and tell you it has nothing to do with the missing spleen and certainly don't go out of their way to find out. Perhaps they should join a spleen forum. There is growing research that when collected can only give credit to the spleen for being such a magical but misunderstood organ.

Ten percent of splenectomy patients grow new spleens. The spleen controls the size of your liver. The spleen reduces in size frequently to aid exercise and recovery and at altitude, so don't parachute. It aids recovery immediately if your heart is in trouble and it is very important in fighting lung infections. Carbohydrate absorption and certain hormones are affected indirectly, along with enzymes, amino acids and oxygen in the blood. The list is endless.

The important aftermath is that one needs to keep your blood in tip top condition without a spleen for many reasons. Avoid fatty foods, moldy cheeses, pate, fizzy drinks, unpasteurized drinks such as milk, cider, juices, food grown in manure unless well cooked, overripe food, food past the sell by date,etc. Drink plenty of healthy water, mineral or ionised if possible.

Take multivitamin pills, but no extra iron unless definitely needed. Also take all the natural antivirals such as garlic, green teas, etc. Lots of antioxidants are very very important too.

Water will help to thin the thicker blood and L-arginine and or-citrulline will help to soften veins, which naturally constrict when the spleen is removed but consult a doctor if you are on medication.

I am not a doctor, but was compelled to study since losing my spleen. I have tried to be as brief and helpful to others as possible. I celebrate my life.

By anon266749 — On May 07, 2012

I had my spleen removed eight years ago after a bad car accident. My doctor says I need to take an antibiotic if I get a sore throat or cold. I try and treat myself first. I take Airborne, extra Vitamin C and drink lots of liquids.

For a sore throat, I take honey, lemon cough drops or just lemon drops. If I get worse, then I will take an antibiotic. I don't want to take too many antibiotics, but I will if I have to. Too many antibiotics can destroy good bacteria and you should always take probiotics, acidophilus when taking them.

By anon257178 — On Mar 25, 2012

@Reeb: Me too. Seems to go with the spleenless world.I have a damaged gall bladder and a blocked liver portal vein. --John

By anon255142 — On Mar 15, 2012

I am looking for anyone who has or had a growth on their spleen. I was just diagnosed with a two-inch growth that "has vascular properties". So, the radiologist who read the CT stated it could be a hemangioma, benign mass or very unlikely, but a small chance of malignancy. I also have gallstones and need my gallbladder removed.

One surgeon said he would remove the gallbladder and look at the spleen from inside while doing surgery. The second opinion said he would remove the gallbladder and spleen at the same time. The other option is to remove my gallbladder and just rescan the spleen in three to six months to make sure it's not growing. I am terrified about having my spleen removed. Any suggestions?

By anon254649 — On Mar 14, 2012

If someone had their spleen removed when they were 14, and then got meningitis when they were 17 and died, could this be because of no spleen?

By anon251087 — On Feb 28, 2012

Reeb, I had the same issues after a spleen removal. I have a damaged gall bladder and a blocked liver portal vein. You may have excess body fluid inside your abdomen. a US scan will show the problems. Do you see a Hepatology doctor? I have a scan and Hepatology appointment every six months. --John

By anon250557 — On Feb 26, 2012

Reeb, That's me. I have pancreatitis after my spleen was removed, which caused a blocked liver portal vein and a damaged gall bladder.

The hospital doesn't want to remove the gall bladder as its entwined with veins that grew after the blockage. Too risky, it seems. I have a loose tum most days and bloating. Having the spleen removed can cause as many issues as it solves. --John

By anon250283 — On Feb 25, 2012

My spleen was enlarged a while ago but I didn't have mono.

By anon239021 — On Jan 06, 2012

In 1992 I was in a motorcycle accident. My left kidney was bruised, left scapular fractured, left knee shattered and my spleen was removed.

I am on 250mg Amoxicillin a day as well as 75mg of aspirin. This is to help thin my blood, if that makes sense. I have had the Pneumovax and other injections too. I have a scar the full length of my belly, also. I suffer from shortness of breath on warm days and tiredness. Stay well hydrated. I still ride a motorcycle.

By anon235767 — On Dec 19, 2011

I have been told my spleen is enlarged. I don't have mono. Has anyone had this issue and the swelling not be from something bad?

By anon232925 — On Dec 03, 2011

I had a bad horse accident in 79 which shattered my spleen and it was removed. My left lung collapsed also with five broken ribs through it.

I had the 'one shot for life' at that point (aged 31) and have had no real issues bar taking penicillin if I get a cold that tries to go to my lungs. It immediately helps and I have stayed very healthy for 33 years now. More than most, as I don't seem to pick up colds and flu easily.

lucky me. I believe I cannot give blood however, or donate bone marrow. Is this true?

By anon231766 — On Nov 27, 2011

I am a counselor and psychotherapist and since I am doing some research work to link facial expressions to internal organs, I would like anyone and everyone to respond to my query asap.

If you have spleen issues, then do you have horizontal lines either continuous or broken on your forehead?

If you have gallbladder issues, then do you have a vertical line or furrow in between your eyebrows or bridge of your nose, and do you have head aches at your temples or forehead?

Thanks a lot. Your time is appreciated. --Hina B.

By anon214048 — On Sep 13, 2011

Had my spleen removed 37 years ago when 18. Generally in good health since. Get the jabs and take penicillin V 500-1000mg a day.

Like other post's watch food hygiene and wash hands and everything should be fine.

Watch chest infections. I did not go to my doctor recently and after three weeks when the paramedic arrived I had a peak flow of 135 and blood oxygen of 92 percent. Taken to hospital. I should have known better.

Take sensible precautions and relax. Still travel just a little careful when in remote locations. Avoid malaria areas. Not only is malaria very serious, but these areas are likely to have poor health care.

By anon212259 — On Sep 05, 2011

I had my spleen burst the first of the year. I wasn't in an accident, nor was I showing signs of anything wrong. I was just in a lot of pain. I went to the hospital and found out that my spleen was bleeding.

The doctor's first question was were you in a car wreck and I was like, no why? They said your spleen is bleeding. It was a major shock to me. The doctor first was going to watch me overnight to see how things went, but two hours later I was in stage 2 shock, my heart was failing and I couldn't breathe due to the amount of blood in my stomach pushing on my lungs. My blood pressure was 69/34 by the time I reached the O.R.

When I woke up after the surgery my doctor informed me that not only did it burst, it separated from the artery and split into two pieces as well, and each piece had four to six ruptures. Also I had over half of my blood volume in my abdomen. After a long stay in the hospital, I am thankful to be alive.

By anon208075 — On Aug 22, 2011

To the last 15 year old poster. You must go to your doctor for an examination, ASAP, and tell your parents too. Best wishes. --John

By anon207768 — On Aug 21, 2011

I'm 15 now, but when I was 14, I was racing at a bmx track, missed the landing and the handle bars shattered my spleen. I was rushed to the hospital where they took my spleen out and I have a huge scar on my stomach.

I've been feeling fine but in the past week, I've been feeling a pain in my left shoulder and left side of my ribs. I don't know what to do. I'm getting pale. If you know what might be wrong please post a comment.

By anon203967 — On Aug 07, 2011

Don't come off the penicillin; it provides the only baseline defense against infection that we spleen-less people have.

You would be well advised to get every inoculation you can as well.

Funnily enough, I am better protected than my wife but, and here's the rub, I have no ability to deal with a high temperature and cannot visit a lot of the world.

I have Gilbert's syndrome where I get jaundice. It clears by itself and comes on with stress, fatigue or over-indulgence. --John

By anon203720 — On Aug 06, 2011

I had my spleen removed nine years ago, and I am 49. I feel really tired, have no energy and feel down, but I go walking five nights a week, stay active and I have three kids, age 15, 12 and 7, who keep

me on my toes, but some days I feel drained.

I also I have had a bowel problem since the removal, but I stay on top of all, but honestly it is hard.

I came off my antibiotic 1000mg a day three years ago and never had any problems without them, but maybe I will restart them. not getting any younger, but I have a very supportive husband. I am thinking of trying chinese medicine or an equivalent. Any suggestions?

By anon203375 — On Aug 05, 2011

I had recently had my spleen removed about four and a half months ago. I am 18 years old and during my surgery the doctors found out I ended up having two spleens! (miracle). I was pregnant when they found out my spleen was slightly enlarged but the doctors couldn't do anything about it.

After I gave birth, I was getting blood clots and my stomach was still very swollen (my spleen burst). One week after I had my child I ended up having severe pains on my left shoulder and left side. I ended up going to the hospital and the doctors said I had inflammation in my lungs.

So I went home with antibiotics. But I kept having pains so I went back one week later and found out that it was my spleen that burst! Doctors said I could've died because the infection could've gone to my heart. Having my child was actually a miracle because it has been growing since I was a child and having my baby has shown me why all my years when I was a child I would always get sick. It is still unknown how it grew and burst at such a young age because I have never been hit severely there.

By anon186071 — On Jun 14, 2011

I am shocked to see so many people without spleens. I lost mine seven years ago. It was covered in cysts and they had to remove it for fear it would rupture. I am 35 years old now, and I had had pretty a tough time after they removed it. I was always sick and infections moved quickly. They gave me the pneumonia vaccine just before the surgery, and I take the influenza vaccine and meningitis and every year I have the flu shot and the swine flu shot. I do not take antibiotics daily, only if I feel I am getting sick. My doctor knows that as infection moves fast I need to have them at home, and if I have fever closer to 38 Celsius I take them.

What I have learned is that one of the key causes for me to get sick so often over the last four years was my tonsils. They were really bad and once they removed them almost two years ago, my life changed significantly. Also, I stopped blaming the spleen and accept that often I will work too much, too hard and exercise little, to the point of burning myself out and getting sick. I have made some changes which have had a positive impact.

Also, although my hand hygiene has always been very good, I am super careful, carry wet wipes and antibacterial gel in my handbag, especially after I've been in the underground. If I see someone sick or coughing next to me, I am not shy about moving away.

For a period of time, especially with all the swine flu last year, I was totally freaked out by germs, but am a lot more balanced now. I would recommend to anyone to get the vaccines and strive for a better, healthier life than when you had a spleen by making healthy changes to your life.

By the way I am amazed at the guy with two spleens! I am 17 weeks pregnant now and trying to be even more careful, as it seems with pregnancy, your immune system is even more compromised. I am trying to be positive although as it happens I have come down with some sort of cold/flu. I have not started antibiotics yet, as so far, no fever. Good luck to everyone.

By anon179952 — On May 25, 2011

I had my spleen removed 35 years ago after an accident. It's had absolutely no effect on my life and I don't have flu shots etc. The relatively recent scare stories have made me more aware of the need to take any infections seriously though. My doctor doesn't seem to consider it significant either, maybe because after all this time the compensatory mechanisms are all working?

By anon174334 — On May 10, 2011

I had my spleen removed in 1987 due to an accident.

At that time I got a Pneumovax jab. Doctors told me then this would last for the rest of my life. After 15 years my health went down. Many strep throats and other infections. One day I was taken into hospital with pneumonia. Really bad. The doctors then told me that I had to renew the Pneumovax every five years. This has changed my life. No more antibiotics needed. Only the odd cold as everybody gets it, and still no antibiotics needed! Great. So to all of you having the same problem, get your Pneumovax vaccine! --Paul from The Netherlands

By Readster — On Apr 16, 2011

Interesting points. Fatty food avoidance? I think its just a question of a healthy diet rather than a special one.

Digestion issues? I have a constant 'upset tum' with wind etc. I am not sure whether it's the spleen removal. The penicillin, the gall bladder... I cannot get a straight answer from the hospital hematology consultant.

The usual response is 'get on with it'. As I remarked in an earlier thread, I feel lucky to be here so, I guess I'll take the advice.

By anon168153 — On Apr 15, 2011

I have lived without a spleen for 35 years. I was wondering (since people without a spleen need to stay away from fatty diets) if a lipase inhibitor would actually be a benefit?

By anon167301 — On Apr 12, 2011

The Chinese thoughts and reference make sense. I lost my spleen after a colonoscopy. This is rare, I have been told. Nonetheless, it appears that I am not the only one who has ongoing depression, feeling tired, and significant mood swings after losing my spleen.

Here, two years later, I still have a swollen abdomen, numbness in the incision area, constantly feel feverish (but no temperature), and digestion problems. I find it hard to believe that doctors and the medical field continue to say that the spleen is an unnecessary organ. It was put there for some reason!

I do encourage anyone facing losing their spleen to pressure their doctor for answers and facts. I recently learned that scar tissue from spleen removal (or any internal surgery) can cause blockage of bowels. I am not a doctor, nor do I profess to be. Just sharing things I have learned along the way. Seems everyone reacts differently. There is more here than just getting flu shots each year. - Lighter

By anon165938 — On Apr 06, 2011

i recently found out at the age of 17 i have two spleens instead of the normal one. will this affect me in any way during my life? I'm now 20 years old. i was born with two thumbs on one hand. am i miracle to have an extra organ?

By anon164099 — On Mar 30, 2011

I had my spleen removed 10 years ago when I 45 as it was swelling and had tumours in it as well. The hospital needed to remove it to for analysis.

I had a blood clot in my liver portal vein which damaged the gall bladder, caused pancreatitis (hurt like hell)and gave me jaundice. The portal vein re-routed itself so my liver is OK and the damaged gall bladder carries on. I get bouts of jaundice which come and go on their own accord. The spleen has regrown to 12cm and so have the tumours. Luckily they are stable. I have scans twice a year, blood tests and consultants time. I am well looked after by the hospital.

I have read the other posts and I was told to take 1000mg of penicillin every day, have all the vaccines that are available, the annual flu jab, vitamin supplements, keep my body weight within the BMI guidelines, keep fit, don't drink alcohol and minimize my fat intake. Has all this worked?

Yes, I feel healthy and fit. I feel the cold more than I used too, and am slightly anemic but I'm feel good and, according to my consultant, I should live as long as anyone else as long as I don't visit the third world. So, The Nile trip and Africa safari are off my list.

I need a dental implant and it seems that I am not a suitable candidate due to a suppressed immune system. Hmm. I check things like this but, other than minor inconveniences, I feel lucky to be here. Keep positive and stay healthy. --John

By anon162634 — On Mar 24, 2011

In reply to guardgirl7 about her boyfriend. If he doesn't have an Internal Medicine physician, he should be seen by one asap. If he has, they should have ordered CT scans and PET/CT scans for further workup of their previous findings as well as bloodwork that includes Red and White cell work ups and LDH levels. Hope that helps.

By anon159406 — On Mar 11, 2011

I was twelve weeks pregnant and I was sent to hospital with shoulder and abdominal pain. They discovered I had internal bleeding and two days later my spleen ruptured and I had emergency surgery. I then went on to have my lovely baby boy full term. Doctors told me my case was very rare. Anyone else have a similar story? There was no known cause for the rupture.

By anon158958 — On Mar 09, 2011

I lost my spleen after a hit in a hockey game a month ago. Didn't know it was damaged at the time, and when I eventually went to emergency, I had lost a lot of blood. I'm 42 and very healthy, and so far - 5 weeks later - feel very good and lucky to be alive. I am much more freaked out by germs now though! - marmot

By anon157578 — On Mar 03, 2011

I had my spleen taken out when i was eight years old due to a bicycle accident. I'm now 52 and I have always had bad infections strep throat bacterial infections.

My doctor would would always give me two shots and a 1000 mgs of antibiotics a day to take and i would be in bed for several days.

now my doctor has retired and i can't get any doctor to give me a shot, and it seems that i have to beg them for antibiotics. I am sick now twice this year and have been in bed for three days. Finally, the antibiotics are starting to kick in. anyone without a spleen, beware.

By guardgirl7 — On Feb 07, 2011

Okay, so my 220lbs 5'11" almost 17 year old boyfriend just got informed he may have an enlarged spleen. No one's comments seemed to help my questions and concerns.

I want to know if this can cause him to A) die, B) get really sick or C) create health problems which he's never had. Like I said, he's healthy but we also do not know his past because he is adopted. Please help? Yours truly, Freaking out girlfriend!

By anon147017 — On Jan 28, 2011

Jean (anon 73557): I was diagnosed with ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenia) in 1974 at the age of 12. I spent the next 18 months in out of the hospital while doctors tried steroid therapy. The steroids were successful in elevating my platelet counts but the counts would drop again when they attempted to taper me off the steroids. Out of concern for the side effects of the steroids (I was on prednisone) my doctor decided to try a splenectomy as a last resort. It worked. Within a few months I was off the steroids completely and my platelet counts have been normal ever since.

I have always felt that my energy level has never been good, but I push myself to exercise. I feel like I have pretty decent immunity. I catch a cold maybe once or twice a year, nothing serious. I have been getting flu shots every year for at least the past 15 years and this year my doctor finally scolded me into getting the pneumo vaccine and the meningococcal vaccine, which I will need to have about every ten years.

I'm not sure if our issues are at all related (I read somewhere that essential or primary thrombocytopenia was another name for the same condition -- but again, I'm no doctor) but you asked if anyone had experienced similar. I don't recall ever having a transfusion (although I may have been given one during the splenectomy. I don't remember as I was unconscious, of course) just way too many steroids. One side effect of oral prednisone is weight gain in the face and abdomen. I gained 35 pounds in a period of a couple of months -- that's tough on a 12 year old. When I returned to school, no one knew who I was, which led to another side effect: depression. They couldn't rip my spleen out quick enough for me. Of course that's a 12 year old's logic. Good luck. I hope your doctors find a solution that works for you!

By anon144901 — On Jan 21, 2011

Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years. The spleen is the yin organ of the earth element that controls the transportation and transformation of food.

I took an acupressure course and I highly recommend acupuncture/acupressure for all your symptoms.

By anon143991 — On Jan 18, 2011

Had my spleen and partial pancreas (body and tail end) removed june 2010, had complications, primarily from the cut part of the pancreas. I have a cold with lot of mucus, had a flu shot, had bilateral pulminary embolism in oct which landed me in the hospital. I notice my fingertips are always cold. I have not noticed anything other than getting tired easily

By anon139854 — On Jan 05, 2011

I'm mike and in 1969 in Hammond, ID I was hit by a female drunk driver while crossing the street going home. I suffered not only the removal of my spleen but two broken legs, broken hip and a subdural hematoma.

I now have two great sons been married 21 years. I have a scar 13 inches long and I am now 49.4 years old. I take centrum vitamins every day since I turned 35.

I sadly have had nothing but dental problems since the accident. I lost all but four as of this writing. I pray that I'll get implants before I'm 55.

By anon138268 — On Dec 30, 2010

I got my spleen removed as a result of an accident 10 years ago. Since that time I have had countless infections, I catch every cold that comes around and they all hit hard and long.

I had an infection in my blood stream and several bouts of terrible lung infection.

I was told that people without spleens should stay away from red meat. Has anyone else been told that?

By anon130319 — On Nov 28, 2010

I have been without a spleen for almost 35 years. I recently got a pneumonia shot and two days later had some blood work done and my white blood count was around 17. My doctor called me and was concerned and suggested I see a specialist and then he remembered I had a adverse reaction to the shot pneumonia shot where my arm was red and hot to the touch which he thought might be the reason for the elevated levels. Has anyone ever had this occur.

By anon129222 — On Nov 22, 2010

I had my spleen and left kidney removed due to traffic accident when I was six and I am 40 years old now with two children. I cannot tell the difference how I could have been with a spleen but I get all kinds of cold and flu and sinus infections.

Just a few years ago I had my tonsils removed to ease the severe throat infections. When I get cold and have sinus infection they last at least two weeks and knocks me down. All these years I have been told by the doctors that a spleen is a useless organ but for the past years, on top of colds I started having vaginal infections as well and that makes me wonder if these are because of having no spleen.

I also get extremely cold and my hands and feet are like ice even in hot weather. When people shake my hand they get a shock and it is embarrassing. I think people without spleen should be better informed and take extra precautions not to get infections and get immediate help if they do.

By anon116076 — On Oct 05, 2010

I had my spleen removed when I was 36, due to the fact it weighed 12 pounds and was full of cancer. It has been four years now and cancer free. But I don't see any side effects from not having my spleen. I get my flu shot every year. I barely ever get sick. I feel for the others who have terrible side effects from no spleen. Guess I was one of the lucky ones, of course after recovering from cancer.

By anon114843 — On Sep 30, 2010

I lost my spleen due to it rupturing from a motorcycle accident 22 years ago. At the hospital they told me it didn't do anything, but when I got home and looked in my anatomy and physiology books I found two small entries.

People, the spleen is "The Sea of Blood" in Chinese medicine and is one of the major processes of the Chi system. It programs helper t-cells from the info gained from your two to four year old red blood cells and is the second largest organ in the immune system (skin is #1) with tonsils being #3.

Personally, I have had no infections and can still outwork most people half my age, so don't let the negative thoughts enter your mind and make your body "sick". I'm so glad I didn't bleed to death internally as would have happened not too many years ago.

By anon113541 — On Sep 24, 2010

Wow its neat reading all of these. I was in a car accident 12 years ago and broke several bones, was brought back to life three times, was in a coma for nine days, and lost my spleen, appendix, and gallbladder. I had to learn how to walk and talk again. And since i no longer have a spleen, i get bad allergies. I am always tired. I am allergic to something, but not sure what. I have gone into anaphylactic shock several times. The ER is home away from home. LOL

By anon109568 — On Sep 08, 2010

Here's one for all you depressed and tired people with no spleens.

I blew my spleen to pieces in a mountain biking accident about 18 months ago. I'm 28/m) This almost finished me off due to internal bleeding (over 50 percent blood loss). My spleen was removed via open surgery.

So I've always considered myself pretty healthy, but losing my spleen did seem to have a big impact. For a while i did feel more tired than usual and I also felt like my immune system was compromised. This was largely because that's what all the bloody skeptics told me was going to happen, but when something like that happens to you, your body gets a big shakeup.

Truth is, 18 months on and after some tweaks to my lifestyle, i feel my body is dealing with the situation well and the more time goes on, the stronger I'm becoming. Body is adjusting!

I reckon the spleen is located in an area where it must have received a high incidence of damage over the years, and it may have evolved strong compensatory mechanisms for its loss.

Best advice i can give to anyone who has lost their spleen is: 1. Don't worry. 2. Try to be as healthy as you can (you should be doing that anyway). 3. Exercise and just enjoy life.

And most important: If you're feeling tired and depressed, don't blame your spleen! Peace.

By highpur — On Sep 05, 2010

I had my spleen removed due to it being enlarged about a year ago. since then, i have been so tired and depressed. i am sick at the moment with the flu and generally feel tired all the time. I have constant stabbing pains where they removed my spleen and constant night sweats. i have hay fever all the time. does anyone else have these symptoms?

By anon105551 — On Aug 21, 2010

I had my spleen removed when I was five years old (almost 20 years ago). I had been taking penicillin daily when I was younger, but your body becomes immune to antibiotics after a while, and then when you need an antibiotic to work, it is not as effective, so I got off the penicillin.

When I get sinus infections they become very bad. As a matter of fact, I have one right now and my white blood cell count is 18,000. Normal is 5,000-10,000. You know your body better than anyone. I have learned to recognize when I am about to get sick and get myself to the doctor early enough.

Your spleen acts as a filter for impurities in your blood, so of course it is more difficult to recover or prevent an infection when you have no spleen. I have not had any serious side effects due to the fact that I do not have a spleen. You just have to take extra precautions when you are starting to feel sick because infection that is serious enough can lead to death without a spleen.

By anon105263 — On Aug 19, 2010

i had my spleen removed after car accident when i was nineteen. i am now 32 and all these years i have been very low energy and irritable. i used to be very patient and loving. i wonder if this lack of energy has something to do with my immune system working overtime?

By anon87444 — On May 30, 2010

I lost my spleen years ago and i get very depressed and tired and weak. could that be the reason why?

By anon85546 — On May 20, 2010

At the age of 54 I thought I had a severe case of flu took to bed with paracetamol etc. After a few days I felt really rough doctor did some blood tests and two days later, I was admitted to hospital as an emergency.

The hospital discovered i had been born with no spleen. I was very ill and nearly died but luckily was moved to a specialist unit where i spent eight weeks in hospital.

Please, anyone without a spleen be aware that if you have a bad infection seek advice quickly, as others on this page have said people can die very quickly. Don't want to scare people but do check it out quickly and if you have a fever, better to be on the safe side.

I now have all vaccines recommended and take preventive penicillin daily and am quite healthy. Have often wondered why colds coughs etc always hit me badly and now I know why!

By anon84713 — On May 17, 2010

I am a 25 year old male. I have been always been more fit and healthy than most people, and never have had any allergies or serious infections.

I was stabbed four times protecting my ex from an attacker three years ago. I had my left lung and spleen punctured and almost died. The doctors told me they had to remove my spleen because it was not able to be salvaged.

What they did not tell me was what I have been living with since. I get sinus and chest infections at least two times a year and they last for about one or two months, the flu every year where it turns into strep throat and fever that has been as high as 105 for days, and last but not least, I hate spring!

I was born in Florida with oak and pine trees in my front and back yard my entire life. my allergies to them are so bad now even on meds I have to spend all of spring indoors because I can't breath, see, etc. This is no joke.

I have been an athlete and a health nut the majority of my life. It may be easier on some people, but for me it’s been hell. Ask your doctor about how something like this can affect your life. I wish I someone had told me years ago and only now have I been connecting the dots through my own research.

By anon81533 — On May 02, 2010

This is not hype! Forewarned is forearmed. My daughter died 12 hours after she arrived at the hospital finding out only then that she was born without a spleen.

Had she known and been on a regimen of antibiotics she might have been okay. All the doctors we have contacted since then agree: without a spleen to produce your body's own antibiotics or being on antibiotics daily - even simple bacteria can cause death.

Only in the last few years has the medical profession realized how important the spleen is to the body. Previously they thought it was a very "useless" organ! I know.

I have read everything I can since I lost her trying to find answers. But you can believe whatever you want.

By anon80871 — On Apr 29, 2010

I had my spleen removed because it ruptured in a car accident I was in when I was seventeen. The only problem that I had initially was sudden onsets of allergies. Sometimes to foods or spices. Sometimes to certain animals. I would catch colds first and get rid of them last.

Over time though, I seemed to rebuild my immune system because these problems seemed to subside. Now 18 years later, my only problem is that I'm allergic to some dogs and most cats. I rarely get sick or get infections. Don't let all the hype frighten you.

By anon78277 — On Apr 17, 2010

I had my spleen removed when I was three years old due to a car accident. I am now 28 and can't remember ever having a problem. I never get shots or should I say haven't in over 15 years for pneumonia. I am now going to start. After reading your comments, you guys have scared the crap out of me.

By anon75911 — On Apr 08, 2010

Anyone without a spleen should see their doctor and ask about being put on antibiotics (daily) to help prevent severe infections that your body can no longer fight off as this is the spleen's purpose. Please do not take this for granted. We did not know and now our loved one is gone!

By anon75660 — On Apr 07, 2010

Well i was in a car crash and as we rolled i was ejected and flew some 65 feet away and landed in a patch of grass. i then woke up after being in a chemically induced coma for around two weeks and i had no memory of the incident.

The driver was in jail and i was left without a spleen and a huge zipper scar on my belly. i am curious to know if without a spleen people tend to get the cold, etc. a lot more frequently. i had a fever, diarrhea, vomiting a couple days ago but it only lasted for about three days.

not looking forward to getting sick all the time. just happy to still be around. thanks. 17 year old boy

By anon73557 — On Mar 28, 2010

I have a very enlarged spleen which will get even larger but need it as I have a blood complaint which is essential primary thrombocythemia and have to have blood transfusions every two weeks. is there anybody who has the same. --jean

By bjohnson777 — On Mar 19, 2010

For anon31798 - #8 comment: My daughter recently died due to a bacterial infection her body could not fight off as she was born without a spleen. Her entire life she was puzzled and upset because she would go from euphoria to total rage in seconds. It always bothered her that there never seemed to be an explanation.

Since her death - I have come to believe (as the chinese believe) that the spleen holds your temperament and will power and without one you are unable to control your anger.

I would be happy to discuss this with you to see if we can get anyone in the medical field to pay attention and try to get the word out to the public.

By anon69476 — On Mar 08, 2010

I'm a 21 year old mom and wife. I had my gallbladder taken out at 12 and my spleen out at 19.

I've been having severe abdominal pain since i had a c section in august. Anyone else deal with pain like this? I feel like I'm alone and no one understands what it feels like.

It's all the time. When i eat, when i don't eat. While I'm sleeping or awake. Has anyone been in this situation before?

By anon68237 — On Mar 01, 2010

my girlfriend got her spleen removed 8 years ago. I've noticed that ever since she is always weak, tired and often depressed. is this normal after the spleen is removed or could it be a problem other than this? we don't know what to do. can anyone help?

By anon67248 — On Feb 23, 2010

Last month, my daughter got sick with vomiting and went to hospital where she never left. In the many tests they ran it was discovered she was born without a spleen.

It was simply bacteria which is all around us every day. We will never know what it was exactly, but she was gone in a matter of hours leaving a husband and a two-year old child wondering. We had no idea. But now there are so many questions as to how she lived so long with no one noticing. There really is nothing in print to warn people. kmjc73

By anon64144 — On Feb 05, 2010

I went for an ultrasound this morning and the sound technician and her supervisor says that they cannot locate my spleen and asked whether i had it removed earlier. I have never had surgery in my life., My question is, is it possible for someone to born without a spleen and what are the dangers?

By anon61918 — On Jan 23, 2010

My spleen was removed three years ago and now i have lower left abdomen pain near the tummy where the scar is.

The doctor takes too much time and i don't what i have to do.

By anon59308 — On Jan 07, 2010

i don't know much about spleens but i do know a little bit about chinese acupuncture, having had it done on me before, and i swear by it. in western medicine all it does is 'release a certain hormone' but in chinese medicine it moves the chi around your body the way it should do, and the herbalist who did my acupuncture said she had part of her spleen removed because of a stress related illness which everyone thought was cancer.

if you know someone who does chinese acupuncture it's really worth giving it a try if you are suffering from symptoms that the doctor gives you useless pills for. i hope this can be of help to someone.

By anon59141 — On Jan 06, 2010

The spleen is a reservoir for huge numbers of immune cells called monocytes. In the event of a serious health crisis, such as a heart attack, wound or infection, the spleen will disgorge them into bloodstream to help defend the body.

By amypollick — On Dec 19, 2009

Jessica, people all over the south certainly have had their spleens removed, and do not catch pneumonia. In any event, there is such a thing as a pneumonia vaccine, and your doctor can tell you whether you need one each year, or not. Cold weather does not cause pneumonia or the flu. If your doctor recommends you take the vaccines, you might consider following his/her advice.

By jessicaa — On Dec 19, 2009

I had my spleen removed 22 years ago, I fell out of a tree. It was too far damaged to be saved.

I have never had problems with being sick and have never got a flu shot. But I have always lived on the Gulf.

In a week I am going north skiing for vacation, then in three weeks I'm moving to north Tennessee. Should I be worried about catching the flu, or worse, pneumonia?

By anon50748 — On Oct 31, 2009

do we need to have a shot every five years and what would be the name of the shot that needs to be taken every five years after splenectomy?

By anon50413 — On Oct 28, 2009

can i live without a spleen?

By anon48996 — On Oct 16, 2009

I had my spleen removed in January 1990 (ruptured due to an auto accident). This coming January will mark 20 years since my splenectomy and I've had no problems. I get a pneumonia vaccine every 10 years and a flu vaccine every year, which will include an H1N1 vaccine this year.

By anon43210 — On Aug 26, 2009

It was three years old when I ruptured my spleen. It wasn't all that bad so the doctors were able to repair it. I have not had any problems that come to my immediate attention.

By anon42738 — On Aug 23, 2009

to Anon40533: Have your uric acid checked. It sounds like you have gout. I had the same problem. The doctor gave me pills, and after a month or so, the pains stopped. Good Luck

By anon40533 — On Aug 09, 2009

Hi. During recent accupuncture, my practitioner informed me the pain in my arch of my feet was due to my spleen. I do drink a fair amount of all 3: beer, wine and spirits. Could this be a cause of the occasional sharp pains I feel in my foot?

By snipermom — On Jul 14, 2009

Sorry about the entry anon. I don't know how it entered my answer as you, but there is my answer.

No. 14.

By anon36795 — On Jul 14, 2009

Anon, I have been having these symptoms for two years. Right after the motorcycle accident and a few months after it I started to notice how rigid my stomach was and when I cough it hurts. I look like I am several months pregnant and the stomach is firm to the touch. I was in emergency surgery for over 4 hours and my spleen was shattered. My doctor was entered into a medical journal because of the extent of my injury. He took my appendix out at the same time. My heart also stopped several times and I was restarted so to speak. Sorry...I digress. I hope this helps a little. I would love to get to the bottom of this because I am in a lot of discomfort and I have to wear loose clothes now to accommodate my belly.

By anon36553 — On Jul 13, 2009

Snipermom, just the reply from Shellys. How long since you had your spleen removed? My problems have gotten worse but have not been back to the doctor since he just keeps giving me pills that do not help. What problems are you experiencing?

By snipermom — On Jul 12, 2009

Did anyone answer you, reeb? I have the same problem after a motorcycle accident.

By WIHawkFan — On Jul 09, 2009

I recently had a cat scan; as a result I was diagnosed with 2 spleens. What are the medical consequences of having 2 spleens and should I be concerned? Is this why my stomach protrudes; I always thought it was caused from numerous surgeries.

Please help me understand this oddity.

By anon35235 — On Jul 03, 2009

So far, I've been "spleen free" for 20 years. I'm 32 now, have 3 kids, and the only thing I've noticed was the big scar. I do have to get the numo-vac shot every 10 years though, but aside from that, I've had no side effects.

By anon31798 — On May 11, 2009

12 years ago,I was in a severe car wreck, which left me in a coma for 28 days. I had a lot of broken bones and a ruptured spleen to mention a small amount that was wrong with me, is it the head injury, or is it the removal of my spleen that has me quick to fly of the handle? I've always had a bad temper, but it would take me a while to reach that boiling point. Now it's quick and the feeling I get flowing through my body is just undescribable. Please help me understand this thing. I've been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder,anxiety and intermittent explosive disorder. please help!

By anon29472 — On Apr 02, 2009

My husbands side is extended. We finally got him an appointment at the va. The doctor said that it was his spleen so they made him another appt. for blood work and ultrasound. Now the little bit I have read so far they mention the liver also, my husband also has hep c. I'm just not sure what I'm really asking, this is just all new for us. We just found out yesterday. So what are we in for?

Concerned wife

By fofifo2 — On Feb 08, 2009

Be aware that if the spleen is removed that pneumonia can be fatal to that person within hours. Any illness which has fever and chills in a person without a spleen should be treated as serious. Watch for this especially 3 to 5 years after the operation. And keep penicillin handy!

By anon24016 — On Jan 06, 2009

You will still be sick after gall bladder surgery for some time as the body adjusts to the big change.

By anon21513 — On Nov 17, 2008

my daughter has just had a ultrasound and they have said she has an extra bit on her spleen a pocket, what could this be?

By shellys — On Nov 01, 2008

I ruptured my spleen when I fell on my bicycle at four years old. I had exploratory surgery and they removed it. I am now 49 (female), I have not had any infections to speak of; just the normal childhood chicken pox, colds and flus. I also had my gallbladder removed 2 years ago. I can eat anything I want, I have not had any digestion problems. No abdominal pain or bloating.

By reeb — On Aug 20, 2008

Looking for anyone who has had their spleen removed that is experiencing issues with abdomen being extended, very hard and a lot of pressure. Also any numbness under the skin where the incision was made to remove the spleen. I also had my gallbladder removed 2 weeks before the spleen and have had constant digestive problems too but don't know if they are totally related to that or if the removal of the Spleen could be a part of digestive issue too.

By elfi64 — On May 04, 2008

If spleen raptures, due to some abdominal injury or illness, it can cause severe internal bleeding. In some cases spleen has to be removed. People can live without spleen, however, they are much more likely to get infections.

Niki Foster

Niki Foster


In addition to her role as a TheHealthBoard editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual...

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