What Causes Abdominal Pain on the Left Side?

Most of the time, abdominal pain is due to the build up of gas. However, if the pain is severe, it could indicate a more serious condition.
What Causes Abdominal Pain on the Left Side?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Pain, regardless of location or intensity, is always a symptom of something – even if it’s not important. You shouldn’t obsess over it or try to self-diagnose. However, you also shouldn’t ignore it. Whenever you have a concern or a problem, the best thing to do is consult your doctor. But what if you’re having abdominal pain on the left side?

Today, we’ll focus on possible causes of this common pain. Again, remember to always pay attention to your health and if you’re in doubt, your doctor is the only one who can give you the proper diagnosis.

Abdominal pain on the left side – What’s causing it?

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We wanted to share this article today with you for a reason.

Pain on the left side of the abdomen shouldn’t be ignored or overlooked. If any of the following symptoms occur together, you should see your doctor immediately:

  • Constant  abdominal pain. This isn’t something that’s limited to one particular day, or that shows up for a few hours and then disappears until next month. Pain on your left side that persists on a regular basis or always turns up right after you eat is something you should consider important.
  • You’re unable to find relief. If you take painkillers to try to alleviate it and it disappears, but returns in full force within a few hours or the following day.

Abdominal pain on the left side is one of the most common kinds of pain that doctors hear about from their patients. Most of the time, this is due to an excess of gas in the region.

However, because this part of the body is also where your pancreas, stomach, left kidney, and liver are contained…abdominal pain is something that you simply can’t ignore.

Let’s consider some of the possible causes of abdominal pain:

1. Pancreatitis

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Next to gas, this is the most common cause, hence its importance. Pancreatitis usually manifests itself in such an intense way that immediate hospitalization is needed.

You’ll usually feel very intense abdominal pain accompanied by fever, vomiting, and heart palpitations. Pay attention to any little symptoms throughout the day that might provide some clues.

Think about how your digestion is. After eating, do you feel very full, heavy, and have pain on the left side?

If the pain is really sharp and accompanied by these other symptoms, odds are you need to see your doctor.

2. Intestinal obstructions

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Watch out carefully for any intestinal obstructions. If you have a blockage of your colon or small intestine ,it could end up being a serious medical emergency.

Why do obstructions occur?

Basically, it’s a blockage that won’t allow any foods or liquids to pass, and the symptoms are very obvious. In addition to abdominal pain on your left, you’ll have a fever and will be unable to pass gas or have a bowel movement.

3. Diverticulosis

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Diverticulosis is another possible cause.

But what is it? In this case, inflammation occurs in the digestive tract, creating pus-filled sores that will cause you a lot of pain.

Symptoms include bouts of diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, extreme inflammation, and possibly even rectal bleeding.

4. Kidney stones

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Sometimes, kidney stones won’t present any symptoms, particularly while they’re still forming. However, eventually they will reach a size that’s large enough to cause you pain.

That pain may be located on your left side, but remember that your kidneys are located closer to your back. Pain could just as easily appear in the same spot but on your right side.

5. Ovarian cysts

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Women suffer from these from time to time, and they can appear in the left ovary.

But what does it feel like?

You might have eaten very little, but already feel full. There’s a sharp pain on your side that’s sometimes accompanied by irregular menstrual cycles, pelvic pain, nausea, vomiting, and general abdominal discomfort.

Other Possible Causes: Food Poisoning, Gas, and Stress

These are the most common causes for abdominal pain and they’re not nearly as serious. However, even though they’re not as “severe” as something like pancreatitis it doesn’t mean they’re not important.

  • Some foods just don’t sit well with your body, and you’ll know it. Your body will defend itself. In cases of food poisoning, you’ll experience severe abdominal pain on your left side that’s usually accompanied by vomiting.
  • An excess of gas is also fairly common, and although it might seem strange, it tends to accumulate on one side of the abdomen or the other.
  • And what about stress? How can stress be localized in one part of the body? Remember that stress can manifest itself in physical ways, causing indigestion and stomach irritation…So don’t rule it out as a potential factor.

To wrap up, just remember that if you have any of the above symptoms and are concerned, go see your doctor – that’s the only person who can give you the proper diagnosis. Never try to treat yourself, and always follow the advice of a medical professional.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.