Left abdominal pain refers to pain originating from the left side of the abdomen. It usually occurs between the lower chest and the top of the pelvic area. Depending on the cause, the pain can be mild, dull, severe, intermittent, or continuous. It may also start in one place and radiate to another. Other common symptoms include bloating, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and constipation.
Women are more likely to suffer from left lower abdominal pain than men because women’s left abdomen area contains some reproductive organs. Menstrual pain, pregnancy, or some gynecological diseases may cause women to have left lower abdominal pain.
Fortunately, abdominal pain on the left side usually lasts for a short time, so there is no need to worry about it. In most cases, left side abdominal pain may be caused by heartburn, indigestion, gas, anxiety, or poor eating habits. However, when you experience severe pain, bloody stools, chest squeezing, or pain radiating to your left arm, you need to seek medical help immediately. This article will discuss various causes of pain in your left abdomen with treatment.
Organs on the Left Side of the Abdomen
The left side of your abdomen contains some essential organs. Diseases of these organs may also be the source of pain. So when you are looking for the cause of left side abdominal pain, it is essential to know which organs are located on the left side of the abdomen.
Some crucial organs on the left side of your abdomen include:
- Left lung and spleen
- Part of the liver and pancreas
- Left kidney and ureter
- Part of the stomach
- The end part of the esophagus
- Part of the small intestine
- The left side part of the colon
- The left fallopian tube, left ovary, and part of the uterus in women
9 Causes of Upper Left Side Abdominal Pain
Gas is frequently trapped in the digestive tract when a person swallows air while eating and naturally through digestion processes. This condition is usually harmless and will pass through either the rectum or the esophagus. Gas that becomes trapped in the digestive tract can cause pain and discomfort until it is expelled.
The following factors can cause gas:
- Ingesting air
- Digesting foods that may release gas
- Chewing gum while smoking
- Bacteria from eating undigested foods
If the gas pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, you should consult a doctor. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Unaccounted for weight loss
- Blood in the stool or when wiping
2. Heart attack or angina
Although the pain caused by a heart attack or angina usually occurs in the left chest, it can sometimes cause abdominal pain. The symptoms are similar to heartburn, but the difference is that the pain from a heart attack or angina usually radiates to the neck, shoulders, and left arm. If you suffer from a rapid heartbeat, chills, fever, or difficulty breathing, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Indigestion pain is most commonly felt in the upper part of the abdomen. The majority of indigestion cases are mild. An acid buildup can cause indigestion after eating. Indigestion symptoms include a burning sensation, mild pain, heartburn, gas, or bloating.
Heartburn is a common digestive system disease that causes pain in the left abdomen. This condition occurs when stomach acid returns from the stomach and irritates the esophagus. Heartburn can cause a burning sensation, upper left abdominal pain, and stomach upset.
Other common symptoms include bloating, sore throat, vomiting, hiccups, nausea after meals, and a sour taste in the mouth. Some common natural remedies can effectively help relieve the symptoms of heartburn. Drinking baking soda and water is a good way because baking soda is alkaline and can help neutralize stomach acid.
The pancreas is an organ that helps digest and makes insulin. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. This will cause severe pain in the center of the upper abdomen and above the belly button.
Other symptoms of pancreatitis include nausea, vomiting, unexplained weight loss, and abdominal pain spreading to the chest or back. If you suspect that you have pancreatitis, seek medical help immediately.
6. lung-related diseases
Many lung-related diseases cause chest pain and extend to the left abdomen. These common diseases include pleurisy, pneumonia, and lung collapse. People with pleurisy can experience severe chest pain, especially when breathing or coughing. Viral or bacterial infections can also cause pneumonia and pain in the upper left abdominal area. In addition, patients may also feel pain in the back, neck, and shoulders.
7. Celiac disease
Celiac disease is a chronic condition in which a person’s digestive tract is unable to digest gluten. This is a protein found in wheat that is present in a variety of foods and pharmaceuticals.
Celiac disease causes their immune system to attack parts of their intestine, resulting in various digestive issues and vitamin deficiencies. Celiac disease symptoms may include:
- Pressure and gas
- Pain in the abdomen
- Diarrhea caused by weight loss
Children with undiagnosed celiac disease may experience malnourishment and growth retardation as a result of the condition.
8. Lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerant people have difficulty digesting milk and milk-based products such as cheese and yogurt. This is because the individual is deficient in lactase, an enzyme.
Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk, made up of the simple sugars glucose and galactose. Lactose intolerance could be the source of pain in the lower left abdomen.
When a person has high levels of lactose, they may develop lactose intolerance symptoms. Common symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- loose stool or diarrhea
- Gas pain
- pain in the abdomen
- a growling or rumbling stomach
Shingle is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus that causes chickenpox remains dormant in the body for the rest of a person’s life. The virus can reappear at any time, causing pain and a rash that wraps around one side of the abdomen.
Some vaccines can help reduce the risk of developing the disease later in life. Shingles symptoms include pain when touched, itching, tenderness on the skin, blisters that may break open, and scarring.
Before the rash appears, a person may experience tenderness and itching in one area of the skin. They may also have a fever or feel generally ill. When the rash appears, the pain can be excruciating.
10 Causes of Lower Left Side Abdominal Pain
Diverticulitis is a common cause of lower left abdominal pain. It is caused by infected and inflamed diverticula ( the small pouches) in the intestinal wall. Diverticula form in some regions of the large intestine, also known as the colon.
The number of diverticula increases with age, making it more likely that one will tear or swell. As a result, diverticulitis is more common in older adults, although it can occur in younger people. Diverticulitis pain usually increases while a person is eating or shortly after a meal.
diverticulitis usually accompanies other symptoms, including:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Feeling bloated
2. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory bowel diseases that can cause pain anywhere in the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease affects the small intestine the most, while ulcerative colitis affects the colon the most.
What causes Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis is still unknown. The most common symptoms are abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. It can also result in fever and unexplained weight loss.
3. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that can only be diagnosed after other possible causes of a person’s symptoms have been ruled out. IBS symptoms may include abdominal pain, pressure, constipation or diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
When an organ or other body part pushes through the abdominal wall, it causes a hernia. A lump may appear near the groin on occasion or in the midsection.
Hernias come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the underlying cause. Because hernias can lead to further complications, it is critical to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Some additional symptoms of hernia complications include:
- Pain when lifting an object
- Intense pain in the lower abdomen
- The increasing size of a bulge
- A general feeling of fullness
A poor diet and a lack of exercise can both lead to constipation. When a person is constipated, they are unable to pass a stool. It is frequently caused by a poor diet and a lack of physical activity. One of the most effective treatments is to improve one’s diet and increase one’s physical activity.
Constipation can cause the following symptoms:
- Straining when passing stool
- Requiring abdominal pressure to help push out a stool
- A lumpy or tough stool
- Feeling as if the rectum is blocked
- Feeling as if not all of the stool has passed
- Having fewer than 3-4 bowel movements in a week
6. Kidney Stones
Most stones are caused by calcium buildup and can occur in either the left or right kidney. You may develop a kidney stone and be unaware of it until it causes problems, such as causing excruciating pain or blocking part of the kidney as it passes.
Typical kidney stone symptoms include abdominal pain, urinating pain, nausea or vomiting blood in the urine, fever, and frequent urination.
7. Obstruction in the intestine
Food cannot pass through the digestive tract when there is a blockage in the intestine. This causes intense pain in the left abdomen that necessitates immediate medical attention.
Intestinal obstructions are more common in older people and are usually caused by other conditions like diverticulitis or colon cancer. Abdominal pain is a common symptom of intestinal obstruction.
Other symptoms of abdominal pain include:
- Failure to pass stool
8. Diabetic ketoacidosis
A diabetic dangerous complication of diabetes that can affect the functions of your liver, kidneys, and brain. Signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis can appear quickly, sometimes within 24 hours. These signs and symptoms may be the first indication of diabetes for some people.
Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include abdominal pain, extreme thirst, urination regularly, vomiting, and nausea.
9. Pancreatic cancer
This condition occurs when the cells in the pancreas begin to grow uncontrollably. Pancreatic cancer can cause serve left side abdominal pain. You should seek medical help quickly as this condition is fatal.
10. Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary system and cause inflammation and infection. UTI is a common cause of left abdominal pain, which affects not only women but also men.
UTI can cause cloudy urine, a burning sensation when urinating, and pain in the waist and lower abdomen. Some natural remedies such as drinking enough water, running, swimming, and adjusting eating habits can help reduce symptoms.
Left Side Abdominal Pain in Women Only
Women are more likely to suffer from left abdominal pain because their reproductive organs are located in the lower abdomen and pelvis. The following are the common causes of left abdominal pain in women.
Endometriosis occurs when part of the endometrium begins to grow on other organs. This can cause irregular menstruation, pain in the left lower abdomen, and pain in the groin. Other symptoms include constipation, bloating, and pain during defecation or urination. Endometriosis can also make it difficult to get pregnant.
2. Ovarian cyst
Ovarian cysts usually occur during the menstrual cycle of women. Enlarged or ruptured cysts can cause severe pain or cramp in the lower abdomen. In most cases, this pain will worsen when going to the toilet and sometimes spread to the back. However, in other cases, some women have no symptoms.
3. Pelvic Inflammation (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a bacterial infection that occurs in the reproductive organs. A sexually transmitted disease usually causes this. Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause nausea, vomiting, lower abdominal pain, irregular vaginal bleeding, and heterochromatic vaginal discharge.
4. Ectopic pregnancy
This is a condition that occurs when a fertilized egg begins to grow outside the uterine cavity. Ectopic pregnancy can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated on time.
One of the onset symptoms of ectopic pregnancy is severe abdominal pain. Other symptoms include menstrual cessation, nausea, and headaches. If your pain is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, shoulder pain, or fainting, you should see a doctor immediately.
How is left side abdominal pain diagnosed?
Left side abdominal pain can be challenging to diagnose since it has many possible causes. Your doctor will likely run tests such as bloodwork, urine analysis, stool cultures, or ultrasound imaging to find out what’s causing your pain.
One test used by doctors to pinpoint the cause of left side abdominal pain is a gallbladder ejection fraction (GBEF), which uses ultrasound imaging to determine whether or not your gallbladder is working correctly.
What are the treatment options for left-side abdominal pain?
Left side abdominal pain is treated based on the underlying cause. If you have appendicitis, for example, surgery to remove your appendix is necessary to prevent further issues in your abdomen. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics if you have an infection like gastroenteritis.
When should you see a doctor?
In most cases, the left side abdominal pain will not last long, and you don’t need to worry about it. However, seeing a doctor for abdominal pain is necessary when the pain is unexplainable or is accompanied by other symptoms.
If the following symptoms occur, seek medical help immediately.
- Unbearable severe abdominal pain
- Nausea, vomiting, and high fever
- Fast heartbeat and difficulty breathing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain lasts more than 2 days
- Dull pain extending to the back and arms