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Causes of Left Side Abdominal Pain

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Information needed to diagnose the causes of left side abdominal pain

The occurrence of left side abdominal pain has numerous causes. Physicians require accurate, careful information from patients in order to give a diagnosis. The exact location of the pain such as the middle or side of the body is among the details included in the necessary information. Is the pain in the upper or lower portion of the abdomen? Are there certain positions that cause the pain to occur? What is the pain frequency? Is the pain constant or only present during activity such as exercise?  For females, it is important to note at what point in the menstrual cycle the pain begins.

Exercise and cramping can cause left side abdominal pain

Exercise related cramping is one of the most frequent causes of left side abdominal pain. An improper warm up routine, electrolyte imbalances and dehydration are usually the causes of cramping while exercising. Drinking plenty of fluids an hour before exercise will reduce the chances of developing cramps while exercising. Water is fine although the prevention of cramps is achieved more effectively by the use of sports drinks. The abdominal muscles should be included in the warm up routine while stretching and warming up before exercising. Abdominal pain can also be an indication that something is seriously wrong inside the body.

Organs located on left side of the abdomen that can cause pain

Upper left abdominal pain can be caused by a number of individual conditions in the many organs located there. The abdomen’s upper portion has a section of the large intestine traveling through it. Pain can be caused by a twist in the large intestine or gas. The upper left abdomen also holds the pancreas, when it becomes inflamed very sharp pains will be experienced. The spleen is here also. An extreme amount of pain can result from a splenetic rupture, typically resulting from car accidents; this is a critical medical emergency. Liver disease can result in the painful inflammation of the spleen. Pain will usually be experienced in the upper abdomen’s outermost areas with a kidney stone.  Hernias also cause a large amount of pain and occur when a hole appears in the abdominal muscles which allows intestines or other tissue to push through.

Ovulation and menstruation often cause abdominal pain and cramping

Females will often experience pain in the ovaries mid-cycle, this pain is usually isolated to one side of the abdomen or the other.  During the actual time of the period, there can also be pain and cramping lower in the center abdomen.  These pains usually occur every cycle and can be alleviated by exercising more and also with over the counter medications.  In some women, another pain can occur in the lower abdomen that is called endometriosis.  Endometriosis is usually not related to the menstrual cycle.

The Abdomen and Pneumonia

Pneumonia patients often present with upper abdominal pain. Pneumonia’s other symptoms are more obvious making this a secondary symptom. Coughing, chills, difficulty breathing, fever and sweating are some of pneumonia’s other symptoms. Upper abdominal pain can result when the diaphragm becomes inflamed from an extremely bad cough in some cases.

Many STDs often have abdominal pain as the first noticeable symptom

In many men and women, the earliest signs of a sexually transmitted disease are often overlooked until abdominal pain occurs. Extreme pain in the lower abdomen is how patients are usually first diagnosed with Gonorrhea.  Many STDs are harmless when treated early, but can lead to major complications such as sterility if left untreated.

Occurring outside of exercise left side abdominal pain is a serious symptom. It is important to see a healthcare provider when the pain lasts more than a few hours or is very sharp. Delaying medical attention can potentially lead to death since several of the problems above are life threatening especially the splenic rupture.  

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