CLL Support Association

Enlarged spleens and dehydration – A Cautionary Tale

Enlarged spleens and dehydration – A Cautionary Tale

There can be complications of enlarged spleens, that we don’t always think of…

Last week I went down with a nasty tummy bug… Usual symptoms - stomach cramps, explosive watery diarrhea, nausea etc. I thought it was something I’d eaten (probably some fish that had been in the fridge too long). I’d give it a few days, and it would pass... But it didn’t.

Then my temperature shot up to 38.8, and I felt TERRIBLE… Nasty headache, extremely whoozy… I could hardly stand up, never mind make it to the loo... I alternated between feeling cold and shivery, and hot and sweaty. Ached all over. :-(

Hubby said my face looked ghostly white – so unlike my usual rosy complexion. I couldn’t think straight, but he rang 111 (The UK service to discuss whether medical attention is necessary), and they sent paramedics round. They arrived in an ambulance… Bit OTT, I thought, and all the neighbours would notice…

Anyway, the medics checked me out and said I was VERY dehydrated. Blood pressure 84 over 48! I MUST start drinking more or I'd need hospital admission... So, they waited a while to see if I could keep some water down. (At first I’d felt too nauseated to even try). After sipping my way through a glass of water, I felt a bit better, and the ambulance left without me. Phew...

I have a nursing background, and am familiar with the problems of dehydration. I should have realised what was happening… But it had been a busy Bank Holiday weekend… Hubby had fallen off a ladder and broken his arm (which is now in a plaster). We’d had family staying, and I wanted to be well, for them. With so much going on, I hadn’t noticed how little I was drinking.

And because of my enlarged spleen, my stomach is squashed and has very limited capacity. It’s much harder to drink enough fluid, when there isn’t much room in your stomach…

On Tuesday I phoned my GP (as instructed by the paramedics), and he sent a nurse round to take bloods. (FBC, U&E, Creatinine, & CRP). A stool sample was also sent off. But by then my BP was up to 100/60, and temperature almost back to normal. So, things were going in the right direction. :-)

The next morning, I was very surprised to get a phone call from my GP. The blood tests had come back very awry (not just the WBC), and he wanted to do repeat tests. He wasn’t specific about what was wrong, but said not to worry - it was probably due to the dehydration. So, this morning I had some repeat tests. I’ll be interested to see how they turn out.

I’ve had my grumbles about the NHS in the past but on this occasion, I feel I’ve been very well cared for.

I have written all this as a warning. Dehydration is not good for us. If prolonged, it can permanently weaken kidney function - something none of us want, especially when facing treatment for CLL. If you have diarrhea, remember to DRINK PLENTY OF WATER (maybe with a touch of salt and sugar in it, or buy some re-hydration salts from the chemist). Yes, we probably already know that, but maybe some of us, like me, don’t always act on it… specially those of us with enlarged spleens.

Keep safe everyone,


P.S. Some tummy upsets need more active treatment than just keeping hydrated of course, but we certainly don’t help ourselves if we forget to drink.

P.P.S. The photo of the little Welsh waterfall,and all the lush greenery around it, is a reminder of the richness that water brings...

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Just had another colonoscopy and of course the preparation is several large doses of a laxative to clean out the colon.

The laxative in these large doses has the obvious effect and a day is spent with rapid urgent toilet visits.

Again the instructions are to DRINK LOTS OF WATER… The wording is plastered all over the instruction sheets in big red letters.. It was tough to keep drinking the volumes they told us to drink.

So yet another reason to keep drinking almost as much as we can..

Glad your now feeling better Paula..



Sorry you had to have the colonoscopy, Dick. :-( I hope it didn't show any problems.

Yes, the laxatives they give before colonoscopies are pretty violent... Thanks for reminding us of another reason for needing to drink lots of water.

It's made me think about other times that extra fluids might be needed... Hot weather, vigorous exercise, sweating a lot...

Gotta keep drinking...



Sounds awful Paula..hope you feel better soon. Thanks for the advice..keep us posted on your progress

Maria xx


Thanks Maria. I'm continuing to improve, though not quite as quickly as I'd hoped. Could have been worse though, and the very fact that I'm improving encourages me that something still works in my immune system

Take care,



As the Student Prince sang, Drink, drink, drink!


Nice song... I don't think it's water that it's about though. :-)


Paula, glad to hear that you are on the mend and I hope that the blood test results of concern are resolved when you get your latest results back.

Love the waterfall photo. That water does look good enough to drink from the stream, but I'm sure we all know that with CLL, that would be very unwise and we would likely end up sharing your symptoms...


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Yes Neil, I wouldn't advise drinking from that waterfall. Though it actually comes from a source not much further up that mountain, so it's probably a lot cleaner than some - unless there's a dead sheep in it, a bit higher up. :-(


Hi yes what you say about dehydration is right. When I caught a nasty germ and could not keep anything down (I have reflexing due to a hernia just above my stomach) I had to have a drip which worked wonders. Dehydration is serious and sometimes you need medical intervention. Hope you feel on the mend. Best wishes


Hi Jangreen,

Yes, when we have any condition that stops us keeping water down, drips are usually the only answer (unless we recover quickly). Sorry to hear you needed one. As you say, dehydration is serious... That was why the paramedics waited with me that night, to see if I could keep down the glass of water. If I hadn't done, they would have taken me to hospital for a drip.

I was interested to see the Wikipedia info re dehydration. All rather sobering...

"Dehydration occurs when water loss exceeds water intake, usually due to exercise or disease. Most people can tolerate a three to four percent decrease in body water without difficulty. A five to eight percent decrease can cause fatigue and dizziness. Over ten percent can cause physical and mental deterioration, accompanied by severe thirst. A decrease more than fifteen to twenty-five percent of the body water is invariably fatal... as organs fail, starting with the kidneys....

However, In people over age 50, the body’s thirst sensation diminishes and continues diminishing with age. Many senior citizens suffer symptoms of dehydration (without realising it). Dehydration along with hyperthermia results in the elderly dying suddenly during extreme hot weather."

I had been surprised that I did not feel thirsty, when I was getting dehydrated, but now I see it's probably because I'm a "senior citizen". :-(

Paula (drinking a mug of hot water) :-)


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