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Stomach Pain on Left Side- What Could It Mean?

Stomach painStomach pain is a common health problem in our day to day life. Pain in the stomach can occur on both right and left side. The pain may occur all of a sudden lasting for short term or it can occur for long term. Severity of the pain may range from mild to moderate to severe. It can occur in any person from children to old people. Pain can occur along with other problems such as vomiting, gas, diarrhoea or constipation etc. On the left side of abdomen there are various important organs such as stomach, spleen, pancreas, kidney, part of colon and intestine, ovary and fallopian tubes in females etc. Stomach pain in the left side may occur due to any problems in these organs. One must know the various reasons of stomach pain occurring on left side.

Causes of Stomach Pain on Left Side

There are various reasons of stomach pain occurring on left side. Some most common causes include digestive problems in day to day life such as gas, indigestion, constipation, heartburn etc. Some problems occur in only women while some only in men depending upon the involved organ. Let’s see the various reasons of pain in left side of stomach.

1. Indigestion

Indigestion is a condition of impaired digestion. It is also known as Dyspepsia or Stomach upset. This condition is a common problem. Although it’s not a disease, but it can be a symptom of digestive tract diseases. It can also occur without any underlying disease. Lifestyle changes, medications, food habits etc may also aggravate this condition. It can cause various signs and symptoms. A feeling of fullness in the stomach, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, gastroesophageal reflux, burning sensation, acidic taste etc can occur due to it. It can occur on a daily basis or occasionally. If it happens on a daily basis, it may lead to some digestive tract disease. Various causes of indigestion includes overeating, alcohol consumption, excess use of pain killers such as aspirin etc, smoking, excess consumption of tea and coffee, eating spicy and fatty foods, stress, obesity, other medications etc.

2. Gas Formation

Excess production of gas can occur due to indigestion, acidity etc which in turn can cause bloating. Bloating can cause fullness sensation, distension of the abdomen and pain in the stomach. Belching can also occur due to excess gas formation, which is the expulsion of gas through mouth from the gastro- intestinal tract.

3. Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is the inflammation or infection in the diverticula, which are small bulging pouches that develop along the walls of the intestine. The pouches can develop anywhere in the digestive tract. Most commonly these pouches form at the end of the descending and sigmoid colon which are located in left side of abdomen. So, it causes pain in the abdomen especially on the left side, cramps especially on the left side which disappear after passing gas or moving bowels and bright red coloured stool.

4. Gastroesophageal Reflux

Gastro- oesophageal reflux is the reflux of acid back into the oesophagus from the stomach. This reflux causes burning sensation in the throat and bad acidic taste. The acid irritates the throat. This also causes pain in chest, throat and stomach, sensation of lump in the chest and difficulty in swallowing.

5. Heartburn

It is a burning pain in the chest behind the breastbone, which may spread and can also cause stomach pain. Heartburn occurs when the stomach acid backs up in the esophagus (tube carrying food from mouth to stomach). Gastroesophageal reflux, acid reflux and heartburn, these three words are usually used interchangeably. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. Heartburn is triggered by spicy foods, fatty or fried foods, caffeine, alcohol, large meals, carbonated drinks etc. If heartburn occurs frequently or regularly then it is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease.

6. Gastritis or Inflammation in the Stomach

Gastritis is an inflammation or erosion of the stomach mucosa. Excess alcohol intake, stress, medications such as pain killers, bacterial infection in the stomach may cause gastritis. This condition then leads to impaired digestion, pain in stomach, acid reflux and heartburn.

7. Constipation

It is a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying bowel usually due to hard faeces that are difficult to expel. This condition usually occurs because of excess absorption of water from the food in colon. Usually it is caused due to lack of fiber in the diet, physical inactivity, ageing, lifestyle changes, some medicines etc. The main symptom is increased difficulty in passing stools and strain during it. Apart from that it can cause pain in the stomach and abdomen, cramps, loss of appetite, bloating sensation etc.

8. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It is a common chronic disorder affecting the large intestine and includes abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating along with diarrhoea or constipation or both. Sometimes alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation occur. Abdominal pain, cramping, gas etc are relieved by passing a bowel movement. One can control mild to moderate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome by diet modifications, lifestyle changes and stress management. More severe symptoms need proper medical treatment and counselling.

9. Enlarged Spleen

Spleen is located below the left rib cage. Enlargement of the spleen can occur due to many conditions such as infections, liver diseases, some cancers etc. Enlargement of the spleen is also known as splenomegaly. Usually enlarged spleen does not cause any symptoms, but it may cause pain or fullness in the left side of stomach which may spread to the left shoulder, feeling of fullness without eating or eating only small amount of food, fatigue, anaemia, easy bleeding etc.

10. Inflammation in the Pancreas

Pancreas secrete enzymes which helps in digestion of the food. Inflammation in the pancreas is also known as pancreatitis. Gall bladder stones can cause inflammation in both the bile duct and the pancreas. Alcoholism, autoimmune diseases etc also cause pancreatitis. In this condition pancreas secrete enzymes less than the normal amount. This in turn causes symptoms of indigestion, stomach pain etc.

11. Kidney Stones

Hard deposits of minerals and salts can form inside the kidneys, known as kidney stones. When urine becomes concentrated, minerals can crystallize and stick together forming stones. Movement of these stones in the kidney or passing into the ureter may cause severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs, radiating to the lower abdomen and groin. The pain also fluctuates in intensity. In order to reduce the risk of kidney stones one must take appropriate amount of water daily.

12. Hernia

Hernia is bulging or squeezing of an organ or tissue through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. There are various types of hernia such as in inner groin, outer groin, due to incision (surgical cut), belly button, upper stomach etc. Increase in pressure in the abdomen due to lifting of heavy objects, constipation, persistent coughing or sneezing, obesity etc can cause hernia. Symptoms of hernia varies with the type, common symptoms include increase in the size of bulge, increasing pain at the site of hernia, pain while lifting, fullness feeling or dull ache etc.

13. Menstrual Cramps

Cramps can occur in the abdomen during menstruation due to changes in the hormones level which causes uterine contractions, inflammation and pain.

14. Stomach Cancer

Stomach pain, chronic indigestion, heartburn, nausea and vomiting etc are some of the symptoms of stomach cancer. These symptoms usually occur in the advanced stage of it. In the early stages, the symptoms are very mild or not present. So, it becomes difficult to diagnose this condition at an early stage.

15. Ectopic Pregnancy

In this unusual type of pregnancy, the embryo attaches outside the uterus. This condition causes abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. The pain may be sharp, dull or crampy.

16. Ovarian Cyst and Torsion

Ovaries are part of female reproductive system. They are located in the lower part of abdomen on both sides of the uterus. Fluid filled sac or cyst can develop in the ovaries. Cyst can be small or large, single in number or multiple. Mostly these cysts are painless. Cyst can cause abdominal pain and swelling, painful intercourse and bowel movements, nausea and vomiting etc.

Ovarian torsion occurs when the ovary twists around the ligament that holds it in place. Usually one ovary is affected. It can cause severe pain in the pelvis region, abnormal bleeding, a mass in the pelvis, fever etc.

17. Endometriosis

It occurs when the inner lining of uterus or endometrium grows outside the uterus. This condition can cause pain in the pelvis region, painful menstruation, painful intercourse and bowel movements, excessive bleeding etc.

18. Testicular Torsion

Testicular torsion is a condition that occurs when a testicle rotates, twisting the spermatic cord (this cord brings blood to the scrotum). Reduction in the blood flow causes sudden and severe pain and swelling in the scrotum. Along with that pain in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, fever, frequent urination etc also can occur.

 

Stomach pain on left side can occur due to various causes including digestive problems, inflammation in the stomach and pancreas, enlarged spleen, kidney stones, stomach cancer, menstrual cramps etc. Mild to moderate pain in the stomach can be relieved by various stomach pain relief options. Severe pain needs proper medical attention and treatment. One must take healthy diet and do regular exercises to keep the digestion proper and avoid many problems related to improper digestion.