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"Pain in my upper left abdomen and back, what is it?"

ZocdocAnswersPain in my upper left abdomen and back, what is it?


I have been having really sharp pains in my left abdomen right under my ribs and it radiats through to my back. I stay nauseus all the time and most the I can't keep any food down either. I have been to the doctor months before this and i found out i had an increased white blood cell count and enlarged red blood cells but my doctor told me not to worry about it. Could these be connected? If so what do you think it might be?


Thank you for your question, and I am sorry to hear about your symptoms. I would strongly recommend that you speak with your primary care physician further about what might be going on, especially as there are many possibilities and further history and examination would be very useful. Abdominal pain that radiates to the back can be suggestive of problems in the stomach/esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder/liver, heart, and blood vessels, among other possibilities. If you are having nausea and have a history of significant alcohol use or gallstones, inflammation of the pancreas (called pancreatitis) could be the problem. Chronic alcohol use could also cause enlarged red blood cells. If you have a history of reflux, your symptoms could be due to an ulcer that has eroded through the mucosa of the GI tract. If you have been noticing abdominal pain associated with food (especially fatty meals) that is becoming more frequent or constant, this could represent a gallbladder obstruction and infection (called cholecystitis). An elevated white blood cell count would go along with this infectious process. If you are more advanced in age, male, and have a history of smoking, an aortic aneurysm could cause your symptoms. Pain in the upper abdomen could also be representative of chest pain and suggest a problem with the heart. Finally, if your abdominal pain is made worse with meals, this could be a sign of vascular disease and limited blood supply to the gut. As mentioned above, you should meet with your primary care physician to discuss some of the above possibilities and receive further evaluation. If your symptoms are very severe, a visit to the emergency room is also appropriate. Best of luck!

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