• Immune system question after splenectomy

    Asked by fastdog on Friday, December 28, 2012

    Immune system question after splenectomy

    Having had my spleen removed last June, along with many other organs, I was told by my surgeon that catching a cold could lead to pneumonia and perhaps death. It's an organ we don't think much about, but I've found that it's pretty important. I hardly ever got colds, but had one in Oct., for which I was prescribed antibiotics, and another one Christmas day; again, antibiotics. The one in Oct. was just a cold; this one was worse, fever, aches, stomach issues. Short of staying home or living in a bubble, which isn't going to happen,does anyone have any suggestions on how to boost a seriously compromised immune system? Having survived two major surgeries, it's depressing to think a crummy cold could carry me off.

    5 Answers from the Community

    5 answers
    • Peroll's Avatar

      Fastdog, I doubt that you will succomb to a simple cold, having fought the battle well so far, you are tougher than that. However, I do know what you mean by worring about simple colds and the treatments I too seem to get perscriobed antibiotics at the drop of a hat (or drip of a nose). I do have one piece of advice and that is if the cold persists and dose not respond to meds and rest make sure your Cancer Drs know about it. I had a chest cold that would not seem to go away after three or four trounds of antibiotics that turned out to be a tumor that had grown into my trechea. So I now always make sure that the Dr. treating me is aware of the cancer and I ask questions if things don't seem to get better quickly. I do try and avoid too much contact with people that are sick (though going to the Dr and hospital makes that hard as sick people saee to hang out there), and make sure I get plenty of rest and have a good diet. Before you start taking any thing, including over the counter and natural stuff, that is supposed to enhance the immune system check with your Drs to make sure that it will not impact your treatments. Good Luck!!!!!

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      The first thing to consider is that a "cold" is not a medical term. A cold has come to be used as a generic term for pretty much any kind of upper respiratory infection whether it be viral, bacteria, or simple an irritant or allergic reaction. It is actually more common for pneumonia to cause a cold (bacterial rhinitis) than the other way around. Cancer survivors do not have a monopoly on colds, flu, and pneumonia. Your best protection is the same as it would be for anybody. Get a pneumonia and flu vaccine and use common sense with hygenic practices such as disinfecting objects that are frequently handled (phones, door nobs, etc.) in your home, frequent hand washing, and not sharing personal items (food, eating utensils, tissues, tooth brushes, wash cloths, etc.) with others. I've had a compromised immune system for years (before my last cancer) and a crummy cold hasn't carried me off yet.

      over 4 years ago
    • fastdog's Avatar

      Thanks for the helpful replies. That's very interesting that pneumonia can cause a rhinovirus rather than the other way round. And it makes sense. I've always been very careful, washing hands often, not touching my face when out, and even keep a little stick in the car so if I have an itch on my face, I can scratch it without touching my face with my hands. What concerns me is that I very rarely got a rhinovirus before the spleen removal, and I work with kids in my part-time job. They are little petri dishes of germs, and I've always let them fool with the piano. Plus, it's a church, and hugs are plentiful. Guess I'll have to run around with a can of Lysol to wipe down things and people, cuz I've been really sick this time around.

      over 4 years ago
    • carm's Avatar

      Hello Fastdog and Happy New Year to you. The spleen is actually considered a secondary lymphatic organ and not a primary lymphatic organ. It's main function is to purify and remove harmful waste in the blood, and although it does help fight the infections in your body; if it is removed then the liver and lymph nodes take over the duties of the spleen, so there is no need to worry. The body has a way of safeguarding itself and compensating for any loss of function. Hope this information helps, Carm.

      over 4 years ago
    • lyblev's Avatar

      I had a splenectomy at age 14 (am now over 60). I take folic acid daily and try to eat a balanced diet. The only time I've had any trouble with anemia was when I was pregnant. Since then I've had no problems but I do watch my hemoglobin and hematcrit blood levels (when taken at the doctor's office). I also have had the pneumonia vaccine and I get the flu vaccine yearly.

      over 4 years ago

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