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What does it mean if you have an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)?

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A spleen is normally about the size of your fist. A doctor usually can't feel it during an exam, but diseases can cause it to swell and become many times its normal size. Because the spleen is involved in many functions, many conditions may affect it.

An enlarged spleen is not always a sign of a problem. When a spleen becomes enlarged, though, it often means it has been doing its job -- but has become overactive. For example, sometimes the spleen is overactive in removing and destroying blood cells. This is called hypersplenism. It can happen for many reasons, including problems with too many platelets and other disorders of the blood.

SOURCES:

MedlinePlus: "Splenomegaly."

eMedicine: "Splenomegaly."

Nemours Foundation: "Spleen and Lymphatic System."

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on May 13, 2018

SOURCES:

MedlinePlus: "Splenomegaly."

eMedicine: "Splenomegaly."

Nemours Foundation: "Spleen and Lymphatic System."

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on May 13, 2018

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What causes an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

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