Spleen Injury: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The spleen and its location near the stomach

The spleen is an organ in the upper left side of your belly. It filters old and damaged blood cells from your blood. It also helps your immune system by removing some types of bacteria from your bloodstream.

A spleen injury can cause bleeding inside your body. Bruising and cuts on the spleen can cause swelling and pain in the upper left part of the chest or shoulder.

Treatment depends on how severe the injury is. Your spleen was not injured badly enough to need to be removed with surgery. Your treatment includes careful observation in the hospital to watch for bleeding. It might also include a procedure to block some blood flow to parts of your spleen. This helps control bleeding while your spleen heals.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems may develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Get plenty of rest for 2 to 3 months while your spleen heals.
  • Avoid strenuous activities that could re-injure your spleen. These include lifting, jogging, aerobic exercise, and contact sports.
  • Ask your doctor when you can go back to work, school, or your regular activities.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Ask your doctor before you take aspirin or NSAIDs like ibuprofen. These medicines can make bleeding worse.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe pain in your belly.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have shoulder pain that is getting worse.
  • You have belly pain or cramping.
  • You are too sick to your stomach to drink any fluids.
  • You cannot keep down fluids.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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