Understanding The Lymphatic System
Mono and the lymphatic system
Mononucleosis is a viral infection which is rooted in the Epstein-Barr virus. Many different diseases are associated with EPV, and some of them can be fatal.
Mono is an infection of the lymphatic system and it also affects the spleen, an integral part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system carries a clear fluid called lymph and the function of this highly sophisticated system of the human body is to clear out toxins and poisons.
Lymph is the fluid that is formed when interstitial fluid or tissue fluid enters the lymphatic system. Interstitial fluid is a solution which bathes and surrounds the cells of body.
What the lymphatic system accomplishes in your body
The lymphatic system has several functions, all of which are interrelated:
It is responsible for the removal of the interstitial fluid from the tissues of the body;
Mononucleosis is an infection of the lymphatic system. Disease and other problems of the lymphatic system can cause swelling and other symptoms. Problems with the system can impair the body's ability to fight infection.
A little bit of anatomy
The largest gland in lymphatic system is the spleen, a small organ found on the left side of the body just below the rib cage. It is a soft, spongy organ that is easily damaged.
It has some very important functions in the body, such as filtering out and destroying old and damaged blood cells; producing white blood cells, called lymphocytes and acting as the first line of defense against foreign invaders into the body; and it stores platelets (cells that help the blood to clot).
Normally, the spleen is the size of a fist, but mono and other infections can cause it to become enlarged, a condition called splenomegaly.
When the spleen is enlarged, each of the functions listed above are affected. The spleen begins to filter normal red blood cells as well as the abnormal ones it is programmed to filter which, in turn, reduces the number of healthy cells in the bloodstream.
It also traps too many platelets which eventually clog the spleen and interfere with its normal function.
What happens when the spleen is enlarged
As a rule, an enlarged spleen does not cause any pain and is often only discovered as the result of a physical examination by a medical doctor.
If an enlarged spleen is discovered, then blood work and radiographic imaging are usually prescribed in order to discover the reason for the enlargement. One of the usual and most frequent causes of an enlarged spleen is infection, like mononucleosis.
The risks involved with an enlarged spleen include the reduction in the normal amount of healthy red blood cells which results in anemia, increased bleeding or frequent infections.
One of the greatest risks of mono is that of an enlarged spleen. The spleen can be damaged easily and when it is enlarged, the risk of rupture increases greatly. When the spleen ruptures, it can cause life-threatening bleeding into the abdominal cavity.
If there has been a diagnosis of mono, it is best that the person with the disease rests and heals fully before engaging in any kind of activity that would put themselves at risk. A ruptured spleen necessitates emergency surgery. Nobody wants to endure that.
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