General Practice 2022

Pain on the left side of the belly: what it can be and what to do

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Pain on the left side of the belly: what it can be and what to do
Pain on the left side of the belly: what it can be and what to do

Pain on the left side of the belly is most often a sign of excess gas or constipation, especially when it is not very strong, appears in hooks or causes other symptoms such as a swollen belly, a feeling of heaviness in the belly or frequent burping.

However, this type of pain can also indicate problems that need treatment, such as kidney stones, endometriosis or diverticulitis, for example. Therefore, it is important to consult a gastroenterologist or a general practitioner when the pain is very intense or comes on suddenly, does not improve after 2 days, or symptoms such as fever, blood in the stool, vomiting, yellowing of the skin or weight loss appear for no apparent reason.

Rarely, pain on the left side of the belly is a sign of a heart attack, but it can happen when there are symptoms such as chest pain that radiates to the belly, severe nausea, feeling short of breath and tingling in the arms. Know the 10 main symptoms of a heart attack.

1. Excessive gases

Excessive intestinal gas is a very common cause of stomach pain and is more common in people who suffer from constipation, happening because the feces spend a lot of time in the intestine and, therefore, bacteria have more time to ferment and release gases.

However, the increase in intestinal gas also happens by swallowing air, as happens when talking while eating, chewing gum or drinking soft drinks, for example.

Other symptoms: swollen belly, feeling of heaviness in the belly, lack of appetite and frequent burping.

What to do: Drink fennel tea 3 times a day as it helps to reduce the amount of gas in the intestine, in addition to massaging the belly to push the gas and allow to be released more easily. See here how to do this massage.

Check out how you can change your diet to reduce the amount of gas:

2. Diverticulitis

This is one of the main bowel problems that causes pain on the left side of the belly. Diverticulitis happens when the small pouches in the intestine, known as diverticula, become inflamed causing constant pain that doesn't get better

Other symptoms: fever above 38°C, loss of appetite, nausea, swollen belly and interspersed periods of constipation and diarrhea.

What to do: You should go to the hospital immediately to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment with antibiotics and analgesics. In addition, you should rest and prefer a liquid diet, slowly inserting more solid foods into your diet. Understand better how diverticulitis is treated.

3. Bad digestion

In poor digestion, pain on the left side of the belly occurs mainly after eating and, although it is more frequent in the upper part of the belly, near the mouth of the stomach, it can also happen in the lower region.

Other symptoms: burning in the throat, feeling of a full stomach, nausea, burping and tiredness.

What to do: drink boldo or fennel tea because they facilitate digestion and relieve symptoms, but always opt for a lighter diet with easily digestible foods, such as bread, cookies without filling or fruit, for example. See more options to fight bad digestion.

4. Abdominal hernia

Abdominal hernias are small places in the abdomen where the muscle is most weakened and, therefore, the intestine can form a small bulge that hurts or causes discomfort, especially when making some effort such as laughing, coughing or going to the bathroom, for example. Hernias are often responsible for the constant pain in the groin, as they are more frequent in this region.

Other symptoms: presence of a small bump in the belly, redness in the area, nausea and vomiting.

What to do: You must consult a gastroenterologist or general practitioner to confirm the diagnosis and undergo treatment, which is usually done with surgery to strengthen the abdominal muscles. See more about this surgery.

5. Kidney stone

This is another very common cause of belly pain that, although it is often related to the presence of pain in the lower back, can also radiate to the belly, especially in the area around the belly button.

This type of problem is more common in adult men, but it can also appear in women and children, and one of its main causes is low fluid intake.

Other symptoms: very intense pain in the lower back, pain when urinating, fever above 38ºC, nausea, red urine and difficulty lying down.

What to do: It is usually necessary to go to the hospital to give painkillers directly into the vein and relieve pain, however, surgery or ultrasound may be necessary to break the stones.In case the stone has been identified in a routine examination, if it has a small size and is not causing symptoms, it may only be advised by the doctor to wait for its natural expulsion by the body, through urine.

Left abdominal pain in women

In women, there are some causes that can cause pain on the left side of the belly that do not appear in men. Some are:

1. Menstrual cramps

Menstrual cramps are very common in women and appear 2-3 days before menstruation, lasting for another 3-5 days. While some women may not experience any discomfort, others may have very severe pain that radiates to the right or left side.

Other symptoms: bad mood, feeling bloated, irritability, frequent headache, anxiety and acne, for example.

What to do: Regular physical exercise is a good way to relieve PMS symptoms, however drinking passion fruit juice or doing aromatherapy with lavender essential oil also appear to reduce symptoms.In addition, the gynecologist may also prescribe the use of some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, as well as combined oral contraceptives.

See more natural tips to relieve menstrual cramps:

2. Ovarian cyst

Although ovarian cysts rarely cause pain, there are some women who may experience slight discomfort or constant mild pain in the area of ​​the ovaries.

Other symptoms: feeling of a bloated belly, irregular menstruation, nausea, vomiting, increased breast tenderness, discomfort during intimate contact and difficulty getting pregnant.

What to do: in some cases cysts can disappear spontaneously, however, it is common to use an oral contraceptive to regulate hormone levels and relieve symptoms, and surgery may even be advised to remove the cyst. Understand better how the treatment is done.

3. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a very common problem that can cause severe abdominal pain, especially before and during menstruation. However, and as it can be confused with PMS pain, in some cases, this problem can only end up being identified when the woman cannot get pregnant, being a cause of female infertility.

Other symptoms: severe pain during intimate contact, when defecating or urinating, which can also be accompanied by irregular bleeding and excessive tiredness.

What to do: You should go to the gynecologist for a pelvic ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment, when necessary, is usually done with surgery. See treatment options for endometriosis.

4. Ectopic pregnancy

This is a frequent cause of pain on the side of the belly during pregnancy, but it can happen on either the right or left side.The pain arises due to the growth of the fetus inside the tubes and can occur up to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, especially in the case of women with risk factors such as age over 35 years, pregnancy with an IUD inserted or in vitro fertilization.

Other symptoms: vaginal bleeding, heaviness in the vagina, pain on intimate contact, and swollen belly.

What to do: if there is a suspicion of ectopic pregnancy, it is necessary to go quickly to the hospital to confirm the suspicions through an ultrasound. If the diagnosis is confirmed, it is necessary to terminate the pregnancy, as the fetus cannot develop outside the uterus. See how the treatment is done.

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