Once we feel sudden pain under the left rib cage, our reaction is panic as there is a common belief that it might suggest some heart problems. It’s only partially true because the area under the left rib cage has a bearing on so many internal organs of our body that heart-related problems are only one of the various possible causes of the pain.
What Are the Symptoms
Pain under the left rib cage seems to be the most obvious symptom. However, it’s not so simple as you need to realize that there are different types of pain depending on the causes. If you want to get the right diagnosis, you need to observe your pain and other, accompanying symptoms.
First of all, you must identify the exact place of your pain as sometimes only millimeters can decide on the cause. Treat your body as an integral unit with organs affecting one another. Therefore, despite the fact that you feel pain under your left rib cage, actually, all the organs that are on your left side of the body might be responsible.
Answer to yourself a question if you feel pain in the abdominal area or maybe more in your chest or between the ribs. What’s more, decide what kind of pain you’ve been feeling. It might be sudden, sharp pain that requires immediate consultation with a doctor or it may be not so much pain, but rather a burning feeling causing discomfort.
The pain may appear occasionally and be sudden and severe. Or, once it occurred, it stays with you for many days, causing a dull ache of a moderate degree. You may feel the pain only under your left rib cage or it can radiate to your shoulder, neck, or even jaw.
Some other symptoms you may experience are coughing, vomiting, or nausea. Go to the doctor immediately if apart from pain under your left rib cage, you also experience dizziness, fever or chills, and rapid breathing.
What Are the Causes of Pain under Left Rib Cage
Once you experience pain under your left rib cage, don’t ignore it, but also don’t panic. It might suggest something serious, but fortunately, in the majority of cases, the cause is minor and can be quickly treated. The organs which can be found close to your left rib cage are the heart, left lung, stomach, adrenal gland, pancreas, left kidney, or left ureter. Therefore, the pain under your left rib might be caused by something as trivial as a fatty dinner.
1. Digestive Problems
What most of us eat on a daily basis leaves a lot to be desired. We consume too much fast food, we eat too much or irregularly and in result, millions of people suffer from some stomach-related issues.
One of the conditions that very often causes pain under your left rib cage is heartburn. In short, it occurs when the digestive acid from our stomach moves back to the esophagus. What we feel can be described as a burning sensation, sometimes so strong that it’s mistaken with a heart attack. Don’t ignore it, though, as there are rare cases when heartburn is actually one of the symptoms of a heart attack.
Other very common conditions of the contemporary world are known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and irritable bowel disease (IBD). These are multifaceted diseases, which may have various causes, from a bad diet to a stressful lifestyle, and they may also be responsible for many different symptoms.
If you suffer from IBS or IBD, you may experience bouts of strong or dull pain under your left rib cage from time to time. It’s often accompanied by excess gas, which is actually the reason of your pain. It’s very difficult to fully treat IBS or IBD, however, there are ways to improve the symptoms and alleviate the pain.
Another reason for pain under the left rib cage is constipation, especially when it’s chronic. When hard stool accumulates in your colon, it will cause some pain under your ribs either on the left or right side. Apart from that, you can experience pain in the chest or abdomen and respiratory problems. Therefore, it’s extremely important to tell your doctor about your constipation.
A similar condition to constipation is gas stuck in your colon. It often happens after a fatty meal and it will cause pain and discomfort under your left rib cage or in the left part of your abdomen.
2. Kidney Stones
If at least once in your life you experienced pain caused by kidney stones, you will probably never forget it. The stones which form in our kidneys are in fact deposits of mineral and salt. They can accumulate in either of your kidneys and they cause extremely intense and sharp pain.
If the left kidney is affected, you may experience pain under your left rib cage. Sometimes it spreads to the lower part of your abdomen, or even to the groin. Very often urinating will be very painful for you or your urine will have a cloudy color and smell bad. If because of kidney stones you stopped urinating at all, go to your doctor immediately.