How my life changed after losing my spleen

I was quite young when I lost my spleen after suffering internal trauma in an accident. No one in my family had any idea about what the function of the spleen is and how losing it can mean limitations imposed for a lifetime. The internal injury took a long time to be diagnosed (almost all day long) and when that was done, there was no option but to remove it completely.

I have found that my immunity to common infections like coughs and cold reduced significantly, as well as to stomach infections, but I guess it varies from person to person. I underwent a long treatment to restore my immune system (or so I thought) and was under the impression that all was well.

However, one day while searching the Internet, I discovered a fact sheet that is published by the Kent Splenectomy Trust containing information about post-splenectomy precautions and was shocked to discover many facts that no doctor had ever told me. For years I lived under the impression that I had near-normal immunity but that was not the case. I had not taken many essential vaccines that are critical for an asplenic person.

Upon finding this out, I was prompt in getting all the vaccinations that I needed, and made the other precautions part of my life. I do not enjoy taking these precautions, such as watching for symptoms of dangerous infections, avoiding animals, and other things, but they are necessary for life.

So for those of you who have suffered the loss of a spleen, or know someone who has, please be aware that you are not alone and that help is available if you seek it. The spleen is not like the appendix, without any important function. It is an essential part of the immune system, and if you want to know more, please do not hesitate to contact me, either through this blog, or by email. Again, I am not a doctor, but just an ordinary person looking to help and inform others of available resources.

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82 responses to this post.

  1. This is scary stuff if one is newly without spleen. I lost my spleen some 35 years ago as a result of a motorcycle accident. The observation I would make is this… In the first 5-10 years I seemed to get many colds and flu etc. Since then my resistance to cold an flu appears to have returned to similar to any other person. I take the penicillin only when and if I have a cold or other febrile illness. Otherwise I have lead a normal life and would not know I had no spleen. Simon

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  2. Thank you for writing in Simon.Yes I have noticed something similar. I lost my spleen nearly 8 years ago, and would give anything to get it back. I found that I got frequent coughs and sore throats but it has reduced since moving to a place with minimum air pollution. But still I am always on the alert for any symptoms of illness that can progress to serious stages. I appear as a hypochondriac to others but one has to be careful of one's health since it's a lifelong risk.Did you get all your necessary vaccinations?

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  3. I just had my spleen taken out on Mother's Day (My first one at that). I was in a dirt bike accident and had the open surgery. I have had several surgeries in my life, so the surgery itself was not bad, although a c-section was easier by far. I have not been able to find out much info online about life after a splenectomy, so I am hoping to gain some insight from you blog. Where can I get this fact sheet you have mentioned? What sort of changed did you notice about yourself after the surgery? I feel as though my blood pressure is lower, as well as my blood sugar. My mood seems to be "blah"-like. I just don't feel like myself. I know it will take up to 6 months to heal fully, so I guess it's normal to still feel pain inside when I lay on my left side at night. I just don't really know what to expect. Can you help me please? I keep asking my doctor about life after, but I get a "nearly-normal quality of life" answer. I did get 3 vaccines before I left the hospital, though (Pneumonia, Meningitis, Hep)

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  4. Dear Delani, I completely understand your situation. I too had the same feelings post op, that is low blood pressure and blood sugar, and a lot of weakness. I tend to get dehydrated quite easily since then, and so I take Oral Rehydration Solution as well as juices and other liquids that increase the amount of fluid in the body when I exercise or when the weather gets hot. As for the low mood, it takes time to go away. In my case, I took a lot of iron rich foods. I would soak raisins, dates, apricots and almonds at night, and eat them the next morning. Your case may be different, but I developed mild anemia post op, and had to watch my diet carefully. Only this year was my iron low enough to take iron supplements under a doctor's guidance. It was also because my diet had become poor. I will email you the fact sheet if you could please drop me a mail at lifeaftersplenectomy 'at' hotmail 'dot' com. It contains information on lifelong precautions as well as vaccines that are essential. Are you taking regular antibiotics? They are very important in the first 2 years post op. I was not given them because my doctors were ignorant. You should consult your doctor about this. Take care of your health, avoid places where you may pick up germs like hospitals, crowded places, animals etc. Your body needs a lot of time to adjust to the lack of spleen, and needs to be carefully handled.

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  5. I am not regularly taking antibiotics. My doctor didn't think I needed them. I know I probably should take them, but I have had Yeast Syndrome since I was 16 from too many antibiotics. Now my system is up the creek and I have to watch my diet from that. I have to get diflucan every time I take antibiotics b/c my body can't handle them. It's from the obvious yeast issues, to skin rashes, heartburn and acid reflux, vertigo, and about 50 more symptoms when I take them.I also have Lyme's Disease. I got that tick bite when I was 17. I had it treated within days of the bite/bullseye and have not had any flare ups, but I am scared that now I could with out a spleen. I am hoping that my body has built up enough antibodies for it, since it has been 11 years ago now.Are you aware of any forums for splenectomy patients? I have given up on searching online for information. I was hoping, like with your blog, others could be our best insight. Although it would not be medical advice, but maybe an outlet for support, similar experiences, and concerns.Thank you for your prompt response. I will send you that email with my email address!

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  6. Hi, i had my spleen removed 30 years ago following a car accident, it was fully removed and weighed 88gm. I have suffered for longer than a normal person with coughs and colds, i was constantly ill in my childhood. I have had many scans in the last 30 years and only recently did an ultra sound reveal i have a spleen?? Maybe an additional spleen was present or tissue left behind…nothing in the hospital notes. The soneographer was not very pleasant insisting i never had a splenectomy!!! Do i still need flu vaccinations??

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  7. This sounds like an extremely unusual case. The spleen is not known to have regenerative capacity as far as I think. Do you still have the surgery report from 30 years ago? You could show that as proof to the sonographer. Sometimes doctors leave behind a part of the spleen if it can be saved but even those patients are advised to take all necessary precautions since immune function is lowered. An additional spleen would probably have been noted in your surgery report since it is highly unusual.It would be best if you consult with a qualified doctor about this as soon as you can. Since flu vaccinations are recommended for general public as well, there may be no harm if you continue to take them.

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  8. I am getting ready to have my spleen removed. During surgery for an ovarian ectopic pregnancy, it was discovered my spleen was abnormally large. Now, I am trying to find out information of what will happen after my spleen is removed. My doctor has informed me I will need to get a pneumonia vaccine and flu vaccine. He also let me know I will have to be careful about food prep and to be careful with eating certain foods at picnics such as macaroni salad, potato salad, and anything else that can grow bacteria while it sits out. I figured if I received information in advance, then I could deal with it better later on. Thank you for posting your blog.

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  9. Hi Kathy,I am sorry to hear that you will need your spleen removed. It's good that your doctor is informing you about the consequences of removing it, unlike some doctors out there who make false claims that it will make no difference whether the spleen is in the body or removed.Is there no way that the spleen can be made to reduce in size? Perhaps you can find out some information about that or get a second opinion. Because it is a vital organ and when you want to get pregnant later on you will have to be very careful, and may have to take regular antibiotics. I am not part of the medical profession, but after experiencing the loss of the spleen, and all the troubles that come with it, my only advice would be to explore all possible options before you proceed with the removal.Of course, if it is a danger to your life that it could rupture since it is abnormally large, then doctors would definitely want to remove it. Proceed with caution is what I would advise. If you email me, then I can send you the fact sheet with all the details and precautions for asplenic people, and people who will undergo a splenectomy soon.

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  10. Hi,I had my spleen removed a little over a year ago. It ruptured spontaniously due to a benign tumour and had to have an emergency op after losing 2.5 litres of blood. I have a large scar but a small price to pay i think.I cant say i have fallen ill much since but i do notice that i'm always tired, look pale and have low energy levels. Does anyone else feel like this? i was taking iron tablets that were prescribed after the op but not since. Should i be taking Iron tablets?any advice would be appreciated x

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  11. Hi Anon,My blog has been moved to wordpress.com and the address is given in the last post on this blog.I have not done any research on this but I noticed in myself that my iron levels went down after surgery. I would take B12 and multivitamins to help with it, as well as eating iron rich dried fruits like dates, raisins, etc.A year was not too long ago and I think the body is still getting used to not having a spleen. Have you spoken to your doctor about this? He/she would be the best person to advise you.Take care!

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  12. I lost my spleen at age 17 and am now 52. I was told It would disturb my pregnacys but I am prould to say I gave birth normally to % children the first at age 20 premature at 28 weeks. What I will tell you is that I never have colds flu or influenza I am free of that and I wasnt before I got my tonsils removed at 30. I have many allergies though that I am told due to my spleenectomy and that is to most antiobotics and all inflammatories. I am also allergic to most red dyes in all forms. I have to have a Epipen at all times that keeps me from going into antiflayctic shock.Unfortunately I have arthritis,syatic back pain all over my body and tylenol is my only answer because most steroids cause a reaction too.I get the shot for bacterial and vireal infection every 5 years and if I develope a fever for any reason Off to the hospital immediately. Fortunately I have a doctor that has known me for a very long time and was able to see the medical and physical changes with me. I have almost died twice because of the inflammatories and not knowing. So my advice to all without a spleen any symptom that is not normal have it checked out right away because the spleen is important when immunity is a issue. If you ingest something and you feel not right it is probably because of your abscense to the spleen. Take high doses of vitamin c and keep benedryl by your side at all times.I am not alone I have a friend who also cant take antiobitics except a few like me and the allergies are aweful. The vaccinations are so important and many people who dont have spleens dont know that. So get the shot if you havent had one and find a doctor that cares.

    Hi Corinne,It’s tough to be without a spleen and not be able to take antibiotics. Antibiotics have a bad reputation for being overused by people who don’t need them, but for asplenic patients (among others) they are life savers. I assume you are talking about the Pneumovax vaccine that you get every 5 years. It’s good to know that you are aware of the need for it. I hope that you also get your annual flu shot. The flu if not treated in an asplenic patient can lead to pneumonia which is very dangerous, thus making the flu shot vital.

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  13. I had my spleen removed with the distal portion of my pancreas because I had a benign tumor in my pancreas. My doctor gave me no choice and told me I could do without it.

    Strange that he said you could do without it, as if it were the appendix! I hope that you were advised on all the precautions that are necessary while living without a spleen. How are you coping without it?

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  14. I too, had a distal pancreatectomy and spenectomy due to a pancreatic tumor (in Aug 2011). Since then, I have felt constantly exhausted, have had several infections and commonly come down with colds, 'bugs' and 'viruses'. I have also developed restless leg syndrome (Jan 2012) although blood tests show that my iron and B12 levels are normal.

    Have you taken all essential vaccinations as well as daily antibiotics? Daily antibiotics are recommended for the first 2 years post-splenectomy to avoid life threatening infections. Restless leg syndrome is not tied to any major health issues as far as I know, so it’s probably not something you need to worry about.

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  15. I had my spleen removed at age 17 after a bad automobile accident. My Doctor then & now have always made sure that I have a Pneumovax shot every five years. They said there was a certain type of Pneumonia that if I ever contracted it there would be no medicine that would be able to help me. So every 5 years I get the Pneumonia shot, and every year (or 2) I get a flu shot. I have been hospitalized twice for pneumonia when I let a cold get the best of me and it went into my chest. I know ahead of time to not ever think I can "wear it out" and my Doctor will prescribe me a Z-pack when I have my first symptoms and that seems to do the trick.I too have had examinations, MRI's & CT scans as well as an ultrasound, and I've been told that the pieces that may have been left in my abdomen may have grown back (spleen does regenerate). I'm not a doctor but the way that I understood it was that I have spleeny pieces in my abdomen, but no spleen.Other than what I've mentioned above I have been amazingly healthy for the 41 years since the Splenectomy. I've had 3 normal pregnancies and eat anything and everything I want. The older I get the more particular my body gets about what it wants me to have, but I don't think it has anything to do with the spleen. I have always been told that you could live without it, so I believed it, and here I am!

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  16. Hi Chelei,I didn't see your comment until today because I focus on my WordPress blog. It's good to know that you are living life without too many hesitations even without a spleen. I aim to do the same in my life as well. Great to hear that you take your vaccinations at the correct time intervals. Research has proven that asplenic patients who are aware of the need for vaccinations as well as other precautions are more likely to not have dangerous infections, or to overcome them.Take care!

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  17. I do need to mention to the folks reading this site that losing your spleen can seem somewhat uneventful and no big deal. I lost my from a car accident over 20 years ago. I never had any issues at all until 3 years ago. I went into work at 8am and felt perfectly fine. At 9am I went to a meeting and before 10 am I felt like a real fever was coming on and I was shaking like an addict in rehab. I went home and picked up theraflu on the way. My wife checked my temp and it was 103. I went to bed. The fever never let up. I got up at 3 am and went downstairs to get some water. I drank the water and told myself I couldn't make it back up the stairs. So I sat in my recliner and that is where my wife found me at 10 am. I was unresponsive and was in full septic shock with nearly no measurable blood pressure. I will not go into a lot more details but the ER doctor saved my life and two weeks later I left the hospital. I nearly lost my hands and feet to amputation due to the severe hypotension. I'm not sure how I picked up this infection in my blood, and but I can tell you that it nearly took me out completely in less than 24 hours. A little research after all this showed me that infections like mine will move through my body 600 times faster than someone with a spleen. The main point I wanted to make to everyone out there is that PLEASE pay attention to any sickness you may have and especially if it comes with a fever! Never let your guard down like I did.

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  18. Hi Sean, it's great that you recovered successfully. You were lucky but not all asplenic patients have the same luck. That's why on my blog I repeatedly emphasize the importance of not ignoring an illness. Many people, I suspect, hate to be judged as hypochondriacs and avoid getting medical help. Do you take any regular preventive vaccines?If you are interested in reading more of my posts, my blog has been moved to WordPress. The URL is in the last post on this blog.

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  19. I lost my spleen when I was 11 years old – due to trauma…bike accident handle bar flip (very common actually). I underwent emergency surgery and had major complications from inverted scar tissue for the few years that would follow my splenectomy. I am 34 now. I will say that I have skin allergies all the time. I had bronchitis a bunch of times for the next 15 years but now I haven't been sick (not even a lasting cold) for 3 years. It's kind of amazing actually. I don't really do anything differently – I try to eat healthy and I rarely eat red meat. I am concerned about having a child in the future though, not necessarily because of the loss of my spleen but because of the scar tissue that formed after the emergency surgery. It wrapped around my small intestine and 3 ft had to be removed of my s.i. – crazy huh? I am concerned that this could cause problems during any pregnancy and birth.

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  20. Hi Anon,I have experienced the pain of scar tissue as well, but after examination by two excellent doctors, I was told it was nothing to worry about, and surgery was not necessary. It's quite possible that a pregnancy can cause more problems for you. If you have a tendency to form scar tissue after surgery, then a natural childbirth would probably be best. It would be the right thing to consult a doctor before planning to have a child, because you don't want to run into unexpected problems midterm.

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  21. HiJust wanted to clarify: about 10% of people have "accessory" spleens in addition to the main spleen. Some of these people may have more than one accessory spleen. These accessory spleens are much smaller than the main beast and are sometimes left behind after a spleen removal. This explains why some people retain a spleen after removal of their spleen!

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  22. Hi, I had my spleen removed 1 year ago. It was very random. I was having stomach pain, side pain when lying down, weight loss, and nausea. After a sonogram was done, I found out I had a splenic artery rupture which caused a softball sized cyst to form inside of my spleen. I've never been in a car accident or had any type of injury that I can think of. I had a complete splenectomy and was cut from my breastbone to below my belly button. My question is…does anyone else still have pain on their left side? Will this go away?

    Hi AAnderson,Yes it’s possible to still have pain on the left side where the spleen is removed. I don’t know what the statistics are but I do experience pain more than 9 years after the surgery. Mine is from scar tissue from an incision that did not completely heal. The incision was made to insert a pipe to remove pooling blood. However, I’ve been told that it would not be a simple operation to get rid of the pain so I live with it, and since it is only occasional it’s not a big deal anymore. Your cause of pain could be different from mine and I strongly suggest you get it checked out by a good doctor.

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    • Posted by Michele G on September 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Hi! I had almost exactly the same symptoms as you. I had my spleen removed January 2010. I was told that my spleen was the size of a small football and they almost couldn’t get it out, even with the use of a rib spreading machine.. 5 months after the surgery, I was experiencing pain in the same spot again. My doctor said stretching was the key. I started doing a 10 minute yoga workout every morning and I do not have the pain anymore.

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  23. I had my spleen removed because of a car accident my rib broke and punctured then ruptured my spleen. i also have a large scar from my Breast bone to in between my hip bones straight down. I lost 4 units of blood before making it to the hospital and they had to pump 15 in while doing surgery. this happened just this last November. I've noticed I've been getting allot more sick more frequently. They gave me shots in the hospital but I don't remember what i don't remember the hospital or the accident. but my question is i know it'll take six months to heal completely but is it safe to get pregnant again just after six months? Considering how big and long my scar is? Thank you in advance for the help your blog is awesome they didn't tell me much of anything at least not much i remember.

    Hi Katelyn,I would definitely find out what shots they gave you in hospital and keep track of when (or if) you need to take booster shots. It’s possible that immunity will take time to build up again. The first 2 years post-splenectomy are when you are at the greatest risk for serious infections. Generally a daily antibiotic like penicillin is prescribed in those years.I’m not familiar with pregnancy dangers after scars from major surgeries but your doctor should be able to guide you with that. I would think that until you are in good general health (no weakness, frequent illnesses, etc) it’s best to wait until you get pregnant again.

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  24. My surgeon said it was fine after 6 weeks! However, I was way too nervous and waited. I had my splenectomy March 2012 and I'm currently 11 weeks pregnant with my third child. My OB is not concerned and I haven't had any incision pain. I would think as your tummy gets bigger you may have some pain from scar tissue but nothing unbearable. I hope this helped!

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  25. My daughter had her spleen removed 22 years ago due to a severe car accident. She eats healthy, exercises regularly, but struggles to keep her weight under control. She usually carries 30 lbs. of extra weight. I feel sorry for her, because she tries so hard and gets depressed with her weight. Anyone else experience these symptoms?

    I’m 9 years out but I have no problems keeping weight down. I couldn’t say if there was a relation between getting a splenectomy and weight gain. Good luck and good health to your daughter!

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  26. i lost my spleen a little over two years ago, due to a neglected MRSR infection that went ignored by my doc. by the time it was discovered in the ER after a months worth of fevers.. my spleen was destroyed and had to be removed. i havent had the troubles with my immune system as it seems others have (got the flu over xmas this past year and it only lasted 3 days and only 1 cold since the surgery) but weight gain seemed to go hand in hand with it. when i went into the ER i weighed 118 pounds, when i left the hospital a week later, i was at 145. was told it was the normal bloating from surgery and would go away within a week or two. it didnt. within 6 months i was up to 200 pounds. ive had my thyroid checked, regularly say every 3-4 months they run blood work on me, and its always been normal, along with every other test thats been done, all normal. the docs are dismissing it that im over 40.. and apparently everyone over 40 is overweight o.O and i MUST be eating more than i say (so im old AND a liar) no matter what i do with diet or exercise, i keep gaining (last check i was 228) i havent any idea what to do anymore and none of the doctors ive been seeing are being helpful

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  27. Hi there, I have gotten an email from another reader as well about weight gain post-splenectomy. I haven't experienced it myself so I can't really advise you about it. I would suggest that you go to a specialist for a solution to this problem (an endocrinologist perhaps). If your thyroid levels are normal, there must be something else going on which your doctors aren't able to figure out. There's no reason to just accept weight gain and let it be, because it can be dangerous in the long term. Don't give up, remember doctors 'practice' medicine, so you must do your best to find the right doctor. Good luck and good health to you!

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  28. Hello SummerSun. My husband had his spleen removed maybe 11 years ago. He is now 29 years old. Additionally he is treated for Crohn's disease for many years. Last November 2012 he took a vaccinations against cold and 1 week ago he was admitted to the hospital with very bad virus. I believe if he would not take that vaccine, he would maybe not get it and if so, maybe not in such a strong intensity as he got it last week. What do you think about that? Thanks a lot for response. Laura

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  29. Hi Laura,I'm not sure what you mean by a vaccine for cold? Do you mean the influenza (flu) vaccine? As per the information on the vaccine information sheet, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu because it contains a dead virus not a live one. Even the nasal spray vaccine only causes a bout of sniffles at the most. It was most likely a coincidence that he fell ill soon after getting the vaccine. The vaccine is essential for asplenic patients because influenza can lead to serious infections like pneumonia which can overwhelm the immune system. It's best to ask your doctor before deciding to discontinue a regular vaccine. Hope this helps!

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  30. I lost my spleen approx 6 years ago due to a repeat complex cyst that caused internal bleeding as well as my spleen actually grabbing on to all of my abdominal organs like an exploded gum bubble in my torso. It was a total freak thing and the surgeon wrote about me in the New England Journal of Medicine as they had never heard of such a sequence of events with a spleen before. I had to have an open splenectomy with my stomach, pancreas, intestines and other organs clipped. I had to have a drain for 4 weeks after the surgery. I now have constant diarrhea and nausea with frequent vomiting in the morning and evening. I have had a battery of testing done which came back inconclusive. I was left with the answer "well, this will be your long term effect of the splenectomy." I am miserable every morning and night and feel very ill most of the time. I have had all of my vaccinations they recomend for this procedure. I am 34 yrs old and feel like I am about 75. I am curious as to whether I am the only one with these lasting effects and if I will have to suffer like this for the rest of my life. I am very unhappy and not sure if anyone has any insight or similarities in their experiences?

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  31. I will also add that I get common skin problems now as well that never happened to me before the splenectomy. That is much more tolerable than all this abdominal upset though.

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  32. Posted by Anonymous on June 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I had my spleen removed back in September of 1991 after a really bad cycling accident. My condition was so bad that I had to have a blood transfusion. This was just after the scary days of the tainted blood scandal. I had been really sick most of my childhood due to nutritional problems. It was a real kick in the nuts to get hurt and return to poor health after entering my teens in good health. For the first couple of years I had absolutely no energy. I lacked any ambition. I felt as if I was catching every cough, cold and virus that came along.

    When I started college I became even less active and started putting on some weight. In my early 20s I was out enjoying some beer and chicken wings with friends and began getting terrible pains in my lower abs. The next morning I went into the hospital and had my appendix removed. They were very cautious with me when they learned that I don’t have a spleen. When I recovered from the appendectomy I completely stopped drinking. Which was probably the best decision that I have ever made. (Not socially though)

    About two years ago I came down with a really nasty virus. I spent several days in bed with a fever and sweats before going to an emergency clinic. I had all sorts of false positives for a variety of conditions including hepatitis and high iron. A few days later I picked up another virus and had to go back to the emergency clinic. When I recovered I was re-tested and given a clean bill of health. But I knew that living without a spleen wasn’t just business as usual. Combined with my previous poor health as a child I really need to improve my diet as I approach 40. And I am considering getting a Medic Alert bracelet so that in the event of another accident people are aware of my condition.

    I don’t know how many times I have been hiking through a wooded area or in a ravine without telling family and friends where I was going. I feel like such an idiot now.

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    • Hi there,

      It certainly is not easy to live without a spleen, and difficulties are compounded by the fact that it’s a relatively rare condition so most healthy people don’t understand what it’s like. It sounds like you are aware of the precautions that need to be taken, and that’s the good part. Exercise has been proven to help with immunity so that’s something you can focus on too. Medic Alert sounds like a good investment as well.

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  33. Hi GWilly,It sounds like you are going through a very tough time, and 6 years is far too long to experience all these health problems. I would think that the constant diarrhea and vomiting is depriving your body of essential nutrients, thus making you weaker. I personally developed a very sensitive stomach post-splenectomy. Foods that I had once eaten without any problems at all made me feel nauseous and gave me an upset stomach. Foods that were cooked in solid vegetable fat (common in my culture) were no longer acceptable to my digestive system. I also became extremely vulnerable to any kind of contamination in food, and as a result had to give up eating at most restaurants. However, nothing as extreme as in your case has happened to me. In my case as well, doctors had nothing much to offer me, besides antibiotics. The problems phased out over time but I am cautious to only eat hygienically prepared food. I would also credit a regular vitamin supplement of B complex with the improvement in my stomach health. I don't know if you have ever tried it, and I'm reluctant to give anecdotal evidence as advice, but perhaps that's something you could try.Also, your nausea may be a result of an inner ear problem. Has that ever been checked out? Not all nausea is a result of digestive problems.

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  34. Hi I had my spleen removed october last yr after a massive bleed from a gastric varice. The concept was to reduce pressure into the liver .After recovering from the surgery and massive blood loss etc I have noticed my skin is really prone to spots and i'm tired all the time. My hair gets greasy super quick too.( I should add i'm nearly 40) Anyone else having adult acne after spleen being removed?

    Hey there,I personally did not notice it in myself, but what you’re experiencing could be a result of the stress of surgery. If you are still feeling tired one year after the surgery, you should probably get a blood test done to find the answer. Proper nutrition is extremely important post-surgery, and I encourage you to take care of that aspect.

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  35. Thanks Summer Sun! Great idea with the vitamin B. I did have a deficiency in that a couple years ago – perhaps that's back again. I will try taking a daily supplement (can't hurt!). I did have my ears checked out and I have to see a GI on the 16th so hopefully he can offer some other advice and/or help me through this. I am so glad to have found this website. I was feeling rather alone in this journey and it's nice to see others have similar issues. (Not nice that others are suffering, just that we are not so alone.)

    You’re very welcome. Considering the symptoms that you’ve described, a supplement in the form of a pill may not be properly absorbed, so a vitamin injection is what some people get instead. That’s just something I’ve heard about and it’s the doctor’s decision ultimately.I think there are far more asplenics in the world than we realize – it’s probably that people with the condition don’t talk about it much. Good luck at the GI!

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  36. Hello I am about to take my spleen out the doctor recomended me to do so due to my auto inmunne hemolic anemia (my enlarged spleen its destroying my red blood cells ) so I am always anemic the doc said my life would improve after taking it out no more anemia to be honest I am scared because I know ur prone to infection so here I am researching the lives of people with out spleen

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  37. Hi Jen,It's true that being asplenic reduces immunity to certain diseases, but hopefully your doctor knows what he/she is doing. Being chronically anemic is a serious condition as well, and you certainly can't continue living like that. If all options are exhausted and your spleen must be removed, make sure you get the essential vaccines BEFORE the surgery. Take care!

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  38. I have a cyst the size of a watermelon growing on my what they say looks like the spleen. July 31st I will be having a splenectomy. The more I Google, the more I worry. I'm most worried about forgetting to ask a question, or forgetting to get a vaccine. I worry that I wont recognize a symptom afterwards and not going to the hospital when I'm suppose too. I am so energetic, will that change???

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  39. Hi there, I'm sorry to hear that you will be having a splenectomy. If it's due to be removed on the 31st, you should have got the necessary vaccines already. Have you been given any yet? If you like, I can send you a fact sheet containing information on precautions to be taken before and after a splenectomy. A splenectomy is a major surgery, and one should not expect to be very energetic in the following months, but you will be able to bounce back as long as you are taken care of by your doctors. Proper nutrition is very essential as well. Please let me know if you would like more information. Take care!

    Reply

  40. Well I have a PreOp the 24th, so if your telling me I need the Vaccines, you think they will give them at the PreOp?? I will take information you can give me. My email is thenewpac@gmail.com. I feel like I dont know about anything, going into this. It happened so fast. I had the first appointment July 17th with surgeon and he wanted to do surgery on the 31st. I don't want to go into this unprepared!!!

    Reply

  41. I'll email you the fact sheet now and you can discuss it with your doctor. Hopefully everything will go fine for you.

    Reply

  42. Can the vaccinations be given after splenectomy??? We are.less.than a week away and when I called.and asked, i.was imformed I.could.get.them.after

    Reply

  43. The pneumococcal vaccine should ideally be given two weeks before the operation because the body may not produce an adequate immune response in the absence of the spleen. This is what I've read in the medical literature. I suggest that you meet your doctor in person and discuss your concerns. Many times as patients, we may feel intimidated to cross question the medical people, but I think it's important to be a partner in your treatment, not just a receiver.

    Reply

  44. Okay I dont want to sound rude or anything I lost my spleen 10 years ago in a go-kart wreck. I've got sick once in those 10 years and it was for a day. Your making this sound like one of the most tragic and life changing things that could happen. I was supposed to take penicillin till I was 18 quit taking it when I was 15. Before I had it removed I got walking pneumonia 2 or 3 times.I even door cigarettes and drink often. Pretty much what I'm saying isIjust live your life like you would if you didn't lose it just when you start to get sick keep an eye one it. Life's too short anyway why waste it being scared of getting a little common cold.

    The common cold is not a danger; it’s other bacteria that can prove dangerous. If you wish to ignore the advice of published medical research, that’s your choice to make.

    Reply

  45. Can you please email me the fact sheet you are talking about, my email is kchapina4 ‘at’ gmail.com I had an splenectomy done 3 weeks ago and my stomach still bloated is that normal? I'm so glad I came across your page and reading those messages make me feel better, my doctor never talked to me about taking antibiotics after surgery he also never talked to me about the danger of having it out.

    Reply

  46. Hi there, I will send out the fact sheet to you. I'm not certain why you would have a bloated stomach, but you should definitely get it checked out if it's a concern.

    Reply

  47. Posted by Rich on August 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I have been without a spleen for 16 years with absolutely no ill effects at all. I rarely ever get a cold or any ailment. I feel fortunate to be able to say this.

    Reply

    • You certainly are fortunate. However, I would caution against letting your guard down because susceptibility to infections increases with age.

      Reply

  48. Posted by Anonymous on August 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    i lost my spleen when i was 6 years old due to falling off a wall , i am now 65 years old and i have never taken anything

    Reply

  49. Posted by nicole on August 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    hello all i just got my spleen removed a week ago do too ITP and i have a cold already smh listening to you all i hope in due time my immune system will be back to normal. i havent been back to work and i work in a school im so nervous about that with all the germy kids and all. and to the person who said there stomach is bloated its most likly gas my stomach was still is a lil but a nurse at the hospital told me they blow your stomach up while doing surgery putting a lot of gas in your stomach try drinking hot water to relieve it

    Reply

    • Hi Nicole, I wouldn’t worry too much about a cold, it’s dangerous viruses like the flu that you need to take precautions against. You would definitely need to be careful around children. I’m not sure how you would manage it because I don’t know your working conditions, but do try and take precautions. I would be more concerned about animal and tick bites though, which can turn deadly if not taken care of.

      Reply

  50. Posted by Becky on August 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Hi there!! Just found this blog and thank you for the valuable information. I have been without a speen for thirty years and have taken an antibiotic capsule daily during that time. No illnesses to report! I was talking with a friend who recently had his spleen removed and he said the one thing he will miss is eating sushi. Dr told him no more sushi for life. I have never seen that information. Could you be so kind to send me the Fact Sheet? Thank you…… Becky

    Reply

  51. Posted by Deanna on August 22, 2013 at 4:16 am

    Hi all,
    As a teenager I had moderate intermittent stabbing pains in my left upper quadrant into my upper back and was told that I had an accessory spleen (turns out it’s common in 10-20% of the population) but that it was no big deal and would just hurt a little bit when I got ill. A surgeon wrote it off and I carried on my way for about 10 years or more. In October of 2012 I began having moderate to sever stabbing pains in my left upper quadrant of my abdomen. I saw a doctor who told me that I just had costrocondritis

    Reply

  52. Posted by Deanna on August 22, 2013 at 4:38 am

    Please pardon my previous post’s incompleteness.

    Because of a change in the type of pain I had always had on and off and the increase in frequency, I went to a doctor for an evaluation of this new pain. So the doctor told me that I had costrocondritis and sent me away with motrin. From there my pain didn’t change and at the end of December I wound up in an emergency room after a significant increase in the pain. They did lab work but missed an iv attempt. The doctor came back to tell me that I was dehydrated (but since they missed a prior iv attempt didn’t rehydrate me) and wanted to just send me home. I had to tell her that the pain wasn’t getting any better and she finally agreed to do a CT scan to rule out a kidney stone. The CT revealed a possible small bowel obstruction but because there wasn’t any contrast used for the scan, it didnt confirm the obstruction. She sent me home with pain meds (not a good idea for an SBO), no fluids to hydrate and told me to see a GI specialist acknowledging that it’d probably be a month or so until I could see one.
    In the meantime, I found a new primary care doctor who did tests for h pylori, put me on flagyl and got me an appointment with GI the next day. H pylori was negative. GI thought it was reflux. He put me on Protonix and sent me home telling me if it didn’t work to call him and he’d order an endoscopy and put me on antispasmodics. The protonix didn’t work. The endoscopy was completely normal with no signs of reflux and the antispasmodics didn’t work. A PIPIDA Scan was done to check the function of my gallbladder and that came back at 80% function so no problem there. In the meantime I got so weak and exhausted that every time I got off the couch, I got pale, lightheaded and extremely tired.
    At 100am the night after my Pipida Scan, I woke up with extreme nausea so I sat on the edge of the bed for a minute and then ventured to the kitchen for zofran where I proceeded to get very lightheaded and disoriented. I woke my boyfriend up who took one look at me and saw no color at all in my face or lips. I felt cold to the bone, as someone near death might feel with life sucked out of them. My boyfriend (we’re both career paramedics so we avoid hospitals unless necessary) rushed me to the hospital where after 30-45 minutes of laying down on our floor or in the car, they found me to have a blood pressure of 70/30 which was sustained. An IV was started and fluids were given and my pressure came back up. A CT scan was done again this time with contrast and it showed inflamed mesenteric lymph nodes. I also had an elevated white blood cell count. I was sent home on phenergan and a different Antispasmodic.
    I contacted the GI specialist who stated over the phone that he didn’t see anything on my CT and to continue taking my antispasmodics. He wrote off my low blood pressure. I then found another GI Specialist who recommended a colonoscopy. One was done and they found a few benign nodules but otherwise I was healthy. They didn’t think my problem was my GI Tract.
    I then went back to my primary who suggested a visit to a surgeon for laproscopic surgery to see if they could find any endometrial tissue or other abnormalities that would cause my discomfort.
    I saw a general surgeon in April who did a laproscopic surgery and found that my spleen was extremely large and had tumors on it unlike he’d ever seen. He wanted to remove it right then but because he wasn’t sure of the tumors, he did a biopsy and closed me up. I had to wait a week for the results to come back, the whole time fearful that at 30

    Reply

  53. Posted by Deanna on August 22, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Sorry… Again! Typing on smartphones isn’t all its cracked up to be! :-(

    Fearful that at 30years old I may have cancer. When the biopsy results came back, I was found to have Splenic Lymphangiomas. Apparently they are benign and so rare that only 600 cases have been reported in the world.
    It was now time to see a hematologist oncologist to rule out any blood disorders that could’ve caused it. I saw the hematologist oncologist who pretty much told me he didn’t think my spleen was my problem. He did blood work and attempted to schedule me for a PET scan to rule out cancer anywhere in my body that would cause my symptoms. The insurance company refused the PET scan and the doctor only wanted to repeat a CT scan in another 6 months. Already out of work for 5 months and tired of living this way, I made the decision to not pursue this illness any longer and to just have my spleen removed. If the symptoms stayed after the spleen was out then I’d try to look for other avenues later on.
    I had been accepted into school to get my RN in the fall but that was out of the question post splenectomy and so was my career as a paramedic. Luckily my employer kept my job and allowed me to return as a dispatcher full time.
    My spleen came out on June 13th of this year. It was an open and laproscopic surgery. I have an 8 inch incision from it. While removing my spleen which was 200gm ( 0.5lb), they found an accessory spleen which apparently decided not to show up on any scans along with the fact that my spleen was so large and pushing on my lungs!
    After 2 months of recovery, I am feeling GREAT and realized that I had lived with that awful feeling for most of my 30 years. I no longer have the pressure and pain in my abdomen, no more shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, weakness, etc. I feel amazing and energized and have begun living a healthier lifestyle.
    Has anyone else out there been diagnosed with or heard of Splenic Lymphangiomas?

    Reply

    • Hi Deanna,

      Sorry for the late reply. I am not very well versed with all the things that could lead to the spleen being removed. But it’s great that you have recovered well, and are leading a happier life. Hopefully, someone with the same condition will read this and reply to your comment. Good luck with everything!

      Reply

      • Posted by Deanna on September 19, 2013 at 2:57 am

        Thank you! I’d still like to find out more about the condition but unfortunately seeing it is very rare, I wouldn’t know where to go for information. I hope I can someday connect with someone who has been through the same! :)

        Reply

  54. Posted by Kelsey on September 10, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I just had my spleen removed a little less than two weeks ago due to severe trauma in an auto accident. Before I left the hospital, they gave me 3 vaccines and a bunch of paperwork on the splenectomy procedure but not a lot else. Horses and horseback riding have always been a huge part of my life and SK of course I can’t ride for a few weeks but I am worried about being around the dirty environment that is the barn. Any advice or wisdom you have to share about living without a spleen will be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for having this blog up!

    Reply

    • Posted by Kelsey on September 10, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Oh, some other info: I am 25yo, female, have always been very physically active..I am allergic to all penicillins and have never had any surgery or really serious illness before this..I’m not sure if any of this helps but there it is he he.

      Reply

      • Hi Kelsey,

        You would have to judge for yourself whether it is safe to go back to a risky sport like horseback riding. I am not certain whether you would be in danger from a barn. The guidelines post splenectomy refer specifically to dog and cat bites. If you like, I can email you a copy of the fact sheet, and you can discuss it with your doctor.

        Reply

  55. Posted by Jodi on October 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I have an abnormally enlarged spleen, that keeps growing and growing. I fear that my only option soon will be the doctors removing it. I would love to receive the fact sheet. My email is pandab86 “at” hotmail . com

    Reply

    • Hi there, I’ve emailed the fact sheet to you. Please write back if you have more questions.

      Sometimes there may be no option but to remove an enlarged spleen, and patient safety has to trump the disadvantages of living without the spleen.

      Reply

  56. Posted by last on December 16, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    @Jodi – why don’t you ask your doctor about a partial splenectomy, i.e., do not remove the spleen 100% but keep part of it still there?

    Reply

  57. Posted by Govind on December 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Thnx for all d above info , I had my splenectomy around 2 years back, my age is 19, juz wanna ask what all exercises are allowed to do, which will not harm a person not having spleen

    Reply

    • Hi Govind,

      If your splenectomy was 2 years ago, you are most likely well healed by now. Some people may suffer from scar tissue at the site of the operation which can cause pain during exercises that stress that area. I would recommend that you seek a doctor’s advice before beginning any exercise program. A check on your hemoglobin levels may also be a good idea to find out if you have the endurance for physical exercise.

      Reply

  58. Posted by Yolanda on December 19, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I’m recovering now from spleen removal. My upper stomach is tight and I barely eat. Should I expect to lose weight?

    Reply

    • Hi Yolanda,

      It is possible that you will lose weight if you don’t eat well after a major surgery like a splenectomy. Please seek a doctor’s advice on lessening the tightness that you feel in your stomach. Proper nutrition is vital to regaining health post-surgery and you may consider vitamin supplements as well.

      Reply

  59. Posted by Jan on January 2, 2014 at 3:55 am

    Thanks so much for the information supplied on your blog. Long story short, 23 yrs ago at age 46, I was hemorrhaging due to severe ITP. After 3 weeks of hospitalization and numerous treatments my spleen was removed. After an additional 3 weeks of hospitalization, and 3 years excessive steroids, chemotherapy, I recovered with a weight gain from 110 to 240. Later resulting in stomach sue grey for weight loss (duodenal switch). Maintaining normal weight of 100 lbs. with inability to gain weight. I continued my career as a classroom teacher and other educational careers, which I am still doing at age 66. Fortunate in aspects of illness from others but have continued for years to have blood disorders or illnesses related to insufficient nutrients due to lack of absorbing nutrients. Of course, the majority of my conditions are diagnosed as a result of my stomach surgery, which include but not limited to: iron deficient anemia resulting in years of iron infusion, B12 deficiency resulting in bi-weekly injections, and etc. For 3 years I’ve had numerous tests from various specialist due to an almost daily pain the the left side under my rib age (site of spleen scar), that also projects around to my left side of my back. Treatments have included medication for supposed IBS, back injections, and various other conditions later ruled out by testing (numerous testing from colonoscopy, upper and lower GI’s, x-rays, CAT scans on back. GP says could be scar tissue from spleenectomy or prior c-sections but due to history of scaring doesn’t suggest surgery to remove it – if that’s the problem. Previous surgeries include: c-sections, thyroidectomy, stomach surgery, gallbladder removal, appendectomy and spleenectomy. Orthopedic surgeon could deaden rib cage via nerve blockage injections-Still considering this possibility but radiating pain continues with severity worsenening. In your “blog” some have referred to scar tissue pain but only briefly – could your or your contributors elaborate – honestly at loss and not certain what or where to go — pain tolerance (diagnosed with an extremely high tolerance of pain-lacking pain meds for comfort) has never been a problem but as I age I find I’m just tired of hurting and limiting my quality of life. any suggestions ?

    Reply

    • Hi Jan,

      You’re welcome! You have certainly been through a lot since your surgery. I couldn’t guess what is causing your pain, except for scar tissue or perhaps an adhesion. It does sound like the pain is serious and maybe a surgeon will consider keyhole surgery to find out what is wrong, and that would lessen the possibility of more scar tissue developing. Good luck, and I hope that the doctors will find a solution for you soon!

      Reply

  60. Posted by Hari V on April 5, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Hiii… I am going have my spleen removed… :( I want to know abt the food restrictions after Spleenectomy.

    Reply

    • Hi Hari,

      I am not very aware of food restrictions but Kevin has given a good list of foods that you need to avoid. I personally have found the following foods gave me an upset stomach: cottage cheese, fermented dough and unhygienic prepared food.

      Reply

  61. Hi. No unpasteurised drinks,real ale, mouldy cheeses etc, left out food, over ripe fruit, left out black olives ,. Dates,dried fruit.some nuts, raw eggs,raw fish etc, dried meat of fish. raw veg grown in manure , precooked pies and sandwiches etc. Oxtail soup,home made quiche , humous. don’t eat precooked food after 48hrs when left in fridge which must be kept no warmer than 6 degrees. Be alert .Take background penicillin for life, 12hrs apart.

    Reply

  62. Posted by Celia on April 18, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I have lost a total of 10 kg since my splenectomy! I only weigh 50kg! I am 1.70m tall and very small frame. I look splendid in a bikini or shorts, but my face looks gaunt and I will very soon have to replenish my entire wardrobe! I also developed an under active Thyroid due to the ITP and have regular blood tests to see if the dosage is not too strong! I am of the nature to eat very healthy and the only recommendations I have had so far was to increase my carbs drastically, but my body is not comfortable with that? I also tend to get “ill” around the crucial 3 week mark of excersizing and then I have to slow down as I become sick! I am a very young 44 yr old with a 9 yr old son and 7 yr old daughter! Throughout my life I have been fit and eat 6 meals a day of the right food groups. I am now told that if I ant to gain weight this must change to include carbs! We do have carbs as I have growing kiddies, but I have never been able to rely stomach those as I also suffer from ins and an ulcer? I am taking protein supplement, even though I am not hungry twice a day,in-between meals, but no weight gain? Pls advise!

    Reply

    • Hi Celia,

      It sounds like a difficult problem you have. I would suggest consulting a specialist to find out what is really going on. I personally found that a B complex pill helped a lot with improving my health. It’s possible that there are some absorption issues in your stomach.

      Reply

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