Left-side abdominal pain refers to the pain originating from the left side of the abdomen. It usually occurs between the lower chest and the top of the pelvic area. The left side of the abdomen contains many vital organs, such as the stomach, left kidney, pancreas, and part of the colon. These organ problems will cause abdominal pain on the left or right side.
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.
Fortunately, abdominal pain on the left side usually lasts for a short time, and there is no need to worry about it. In most cases, the pain is caused by heartburn, indigestion, gas, anxiety, or poor eating habits.
If you experience severe pain, bloody stools, chest squeezing, or dull aching pain that doesn’t go away, seek medical help immediately. This could be a sign of a severe health condition. This article will discuss 28 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 crucial organs. When looking for the cause of left-side abdominal pain, knowing which organs are located on the left side of the abdomen is essential. Some crucial organs on the left side of your abdomen include:
Left lung: It is located behind your heart. Some lung diseases may cause chest pain radiating to the left abdomen.
Part of the liver, spleen, and pancreas: Part of the liver is located below the left side of the chest cavity. The spleen and pancreas are part of the digestive system located on the left side of the abdomen.
Left kidney: The left kidney is located on the left side of the abdomen. Some kidney diseases, such as kidney stones, can cause severe pain in the left abdomen.
Part of the stomach and the end part of the esophagus: Part of the stomach is located on the left side of the abdomen. Stomach disease is the most common cause of pain on the left side of the abdomen.
Part of the small intestine and the left side of the colon： The back part of the small intestine and colon is located on the lower left side of the abdomen.
The left fallopian tube left ovary, and part of the uterus in women: Part of the female reproductive system is located on the left side of the abdomen. Menstruation is one of the most common causes of abdominal pain in women.
10 Common Causes of Upper Left Side Abdominal Pain
The left upper quadrant is the left side of your body below the chest and above the navel. The upper left quadrant of your body includes vital organs such as the lungs, stomach, and heart. The following are the most common causes of pain in the upper left abdomen.
1. Gas Pain
Trapped gas is a common cause of pain in your left abdomen. Gas may be trapped in the digestive tract when someone swallows air while eating and through digestion processes.
Signs and symptoms include belching, bloating, and gas pains in your chest. In some cases, trapped gas can cause cramping and sharp pain in the stomach.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, trapped gas is usually harmless and will pass through the rectum or the esophagus. You should consult a doctor if the abdomen pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms. These signs include constipation, unaccounted weight loss, and blood in the stool.
2. Heart attack or angina
Indigestion is one of the most common causes of left-side abdominal pain after meals. An acid buildup can cause indigestion after eating. Indigestion usually causes excessive gas, bloating, burning sensation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and Poor appetite.
The majority of indigestion cases are mild. You can use some natural ways to treat indigestion. Taking ginger, chamomile tea, fennel seeds, or probiotics can help relieve abdominal pain naturally.
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, lower quadrant abdominal pain, and stomach pain.
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 good because baking soda is alkaline and can help neutralize stomach acid.
5. Stomach ulcer
A peptic ulcer is another common cause of left-side abdominal cramping and pain. Stomach ulcers are ulcers on the lining of the stomach. This condition can cause stomach cramps and burning pain in the left abdomen, especially when the stomach is empty.
There are some other peptic ulcers, including duodenal ulcers and esophageal ulcers. Symptoms of peptic ulcers include vomiting, nausea, hiccups, bloating, loss of appetite, or weight loss. Symptoms usually worsen as the ulcer worsens.
Some more severe symptoms of peptic ulcers include vomiting, poor appetite, and unexplained weight loss. If you suffer from these symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.
The pancreas is an organ that helps digest and makes insulin. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. This condition can cause severe pain in the center of the upper abdomen and above the belly button. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, and back pain.
7. 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 breathing or coughing. Viral or bacterial infections can also cause pneumonia and pain in the upper left abdominal area. Besides, patients may also feel pain in the back, neck, and shoulders.
Lung-related diseases can cause sharp and stabbing chest pain on the left or right sides. Other symptoms include fever, rapid breathing, and night sweats. If you suffer from stabbing chest pain when breathing or coughing, seek medical help as soon as possible.
8. Lactose intolerance
Lactose-intolerant people usually have difficulty digesting milk-based products like 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 cause of pain in the lower left abdomen.
A person with high levels of lactose 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
A 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 any time, causing pain and a rash that wraps around one side of the abdomen.
Some vaccines can help reduce the disease’s risk 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 skin area. They may also have a fever or feel generally ill. When the rash appears, the pain can be excruciating.
10. Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)
Crohn’s disease, bowel obstruction, and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory bowel diseases that can cause pain in the digestive tract. Crohn’s disease affects the small intestine the most, while ulcerative colitis affects the colon.
The common cause of Bowel obstruction includes a hernia, tumors, Crohn’s disease, twisted intestine, and bowel inflammation. What causes Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis is still unknown.
Bowel obstruction can cause stomach pain, gas bloat, and complex bowel movements. Other symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and chronic constipation. The most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease are abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. It can also result in fever and unexplained weight loss.
11 Common Causes of Lower Left Side Abdominal Pain
The lower left quadrant of your body includes the colon, kidneys, and other vital organs. The following are the most common causes of pain in the left lower abdomen.
Diverticulitis is one of the most common causes 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 diverticula increase 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 eating or shortly after a meal.
Diverticulitis usually accompanies other symptoms, including:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Feeling bloated
In most cases, adequate rest, dietary changes, and antibiotic therapy can effectively help treat diverticulitis. However, in severe cases, surgery may be required.
2. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that can cause left lower quadrant pain. IBS symptoms may include constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and stomach pains after eating.
Some natural remedies can help get rid of IBS effectively. You can add more fiber to your diet, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. A fiber supplement can also help eliminate IBS and reduce gas and bloating.
An organ or other body part pushes through the abdominal wall and causes a hernia. A lump may appear near the groin on occasion or in the midsection.
Hernias come in various 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
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Requiring abdominal pressure to help push out a stool
- A lumpy or tough stool
- Feeling as if the rectum is blocked
- Having fewer than 3-4 bowel movements in a week
5. Kidney Stones
6. Obstruction in the intestine
- Failure to pass stool
7. Diabetic ketoacidosis
8. Pancreatic cancer
This condition occurs when the cells in the pancreas begin to grow uncontrollably. Pancreatic cancer can cause serve left-sided abdominal pain. You should seek medical help quickly as this condition is fatal.
9. Urinary tract infection
UTI occurs when bacteria enter the urinary system and cause inflammation and infection. This condition is a common cause of left abdominal pain, which affects women and men.
UTI can cause cloudy urine, a burning sensation when urinating, and pain in the waist and lower abdomen. Some natural remedies such as running, swimming, and adjusting eating habits can help reduce symptoms.
The appendix is a small pouch on the abdomen’s lower right side. Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix that can cause pain around the belly button. Although appendicitis can cause pain in the right lower abdomen or pelvis, sometimes the pain can also be transmitted to the left abdomen.
Other symptoms include vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, fever, nausea, frequent urination, and rapid heartbeat. Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If you think you have appendicitis, see a doctor immediately.
11. Celiac disease
Celiac disease can cause lower abdominal cramping and pain. This is a chronic condition in which a person’s digestive tract cannot digest gluten. This is a protein found in wheat that is present in various foods and pharmaceuticals.
Celiac disease can cause the immune system to attack parts of the intestine. This will result in digestive issues, lower quadrant pain, and vitamin deficiencies. Celiac disease symptoms may include:
- Pressure and gas
- Stomach ache
- Pain in the abdomen
- Diarrhea caused by weight loss
Children with undiagnosed celiac disease may experience malnourishment and growth retardation.
Causes of Left Side Abdominal Pain in Men Only
1. Testicular Torsion
Testicular torsion refers to the twisting of the testicles around the spermatic cord. This condition will cut off the blood flow to the testicles, causing severe pain and swelling. Other symptoms usually include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, and fever.
Testicular torsion is most common in young boys between 12 and 18. The pain gets worse in the middle of the night or early morning. Testicular torsion is an emergency and sometimes requires surgery to treat.
2. Inguinal Hernia
Although some women may develop inguinal hernias, men are more likely to experience this condition. An inguinal hernia usually occurs when part of the small intestine is pushed into the inguinal canal of the groin.
An inguinal hernia can cause abdominal pain on the left side. This pain usually worsens when you lift heavy objects or cough. In addition, you will notice bulges in the lower abdomen and under the thighs. If you see an enlarged scrotum or sudden worsening of pain with extreme tenderness, you need to seek medical help as soon as possible.
Causes of Left Side Abdominal Pain in Women Only
Women are more likely to suffer from left abdominal pain because their reproductive organs are in the lower abdomen. 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 condition 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 quadrant. 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 in the reproductive organs. A sexually transmitted disease usually causes pelvic pain. Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause nausea, vomiting, lower abdominal pain, irregular vaginal bleeding, and heterochromatic vaginal discharge.
4. Ectopic pregnancy
This condition 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. You should see a doctor immediately if your pain is accompanied by vaginal bleeding, shoulder pain, or fainting.
5. Menstrual cramps
Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, are pains in the lower abdomen during menstruation. This condition can cause cramping pain in the lower abdomen. Other symptoms include headache, nausea, diarrhea, low back pain, etc.
The pain may start one or two days before the menstrual period and last a few days, but in some women, it lasts longer. To help relieve menstrual cramps, you need enough sleep and rest.
You can use heating pads and hot water bottles on your lower abdomen to help relieve menstrual cramps. In addition, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen can ease the pain.
Miscarriage can cause sharp lower abdominal pains during pregnancy. Other signs include severe cramping in the lower abdomen and abnormal vaginal discharge. If you experience these symptoms, please seek medical help immediately.
7. Ovarian torsion
Ovarian torsion may occur during pregnancy or when hormones promote ovulation. This condition can cause interruption of blood supply, vomiting, and sudden severe pain in the abdomen. Ovarian torsion usually occurs during the reproductive period. This condition usually requires surgery to treat.
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 two days
- Dull pain extending to the back and arms