What Does It Mean When The Left Side Of Your Abdomen Hurts?

Any pain in your abdomen can be extremely uncomfortable, and most of the time it can be attributed to strained muscles or trapped gas (via WebMD). For some, it can also be a symptom of irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), which can cause symptoms like cramps and bloating (via the U.K.'s National Health Service – NHS).

But sometimes, pain in your abdomen can be a sign of something more serious. As Healthline notes, many major organs lie within this area, like the kidneys and gallbladder, which are susceptible to problems like gallstones, kidney stones, and infection. However, there's one organ that's regularly linked to severe pain in the abdomen, and that's your appendix.

Attached to the large intestine, your appendix is a small pouch located on the lower right side of your abdomen. If a blockage occurs around the organ, it may get infected and cause the appendix to get inflamed, which is then classified as appendicitis.

However, pain attributed to this condition typically occurs from the mid to right side of your abdomen (via Mayo Clinic). So if you're getting severe pain from the left side, it's more likely to be attributed to something other than appendicitis. And there is a condition that is specific to the lower left part of your tummy, and that's diverticulitis.

The most common condition attributed to pain on the left side of your abdomen is diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a condition that affects the lining of your digestive system, most commonly found in the large intestine. It's named after small pouches called diverticula. When these become inflamed they can cause sharp, severe pain, fever, nausea, constipation, and sometimes diarrhea, according to the Mayo Clinic.

More commonly affecting those over the age of 40, this condition can be extremely debilitating, to the point that severe or recurring cases may need to be dealt with via surgery. Mild cases are usually treated with antibiotics, a change in your diet, and a lot of rest (via Healthline). Diverticulitis can also be caused by obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, a low-fiber diet, and certain medications. By changing your lifestyle you can lessen the chance of developing diverticulitis, which is advised for those who have a close relative with the condition as, according to another article from the NHS, you're more likely to develop diverticula if your relatives experienced it before they turned 50.

Diverticulitis may be the most common cause of pain on the left side of your abdomen, but the pain also could be a result of something else. For women, it can also be a symptom of endometriosis, ovarian cysts, ovarian torsion, pelvic inflammatory disease, and, if you're pregnant, an ectopic pregnancy. Whatever the case, if the pain is consistent and you're worried about what it may be, get it checked out.