The spleen is a large, soft purplish organ located near the left side of the stomach just under the rib cage. In adults, the spleen is responsible for the disintegration of old red blood cells. In a fetus or newborn, the organ manufactures red blood cells. The spleen is an important reservoir of blood
. The spleen is composed of two parts, a white and red pulp, that serve separate purposes. The white pulp helps fight infection through the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes) while the red pulp removes unwanted material such as bacteria and defective red blood cells.
When a spleen enlarges or ruptures, the organ's functions may become greatly impaired. If a person's spleen enlarges, the number of red and white blood cells in the body may be severely reduced because the enlarged spleen is now able to trap and store more blood cells. Several disorders may cause a spleen to enlarge, including many infections, inflammatory diseases and anemias.
A ruptured spleen is usually the result of a severe blow to the stomach area. When a spleen ruptures, usually after a car accident or beating, the spleen's covering and tissue are torn, spilling blood into the abdomen. Surgery is usually required immediately.
Excessive levels of nitrate
in drinking water are associated with serious illness. Chronic exposure to high levels of nitrate can result in hemorrhaging (bleeding) of the spleen, and diuresis (excessive urination which can cause dehydration), among other conditions.
Hemorrhaging of the spleen can be life threatening. Such hemorrhaging may be indicated by symptoms including, but not necessarily limited to, abdominal pain, tenderness in the upper left part of the abdomen, left shoulder pain and other signs of shock
and blood loss
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