Causes of Left Upper Quadrant Pain after Eating

One of the most common complaint and a leading cause of doctor visits is Abdominal pain after eating. Most of the times, the reason behind the pain in left upper quadrant after eating is due to problem in pancreas. It is an organ, that is located behind the stomach. It’s main function is to produce chemicals called enzymes, which are needed to digest food. It also produces the hormones insulin and glucagon.

Most of enzymes, that are produced by pancreas, become active when they reached in small intestine. But when there is any problem, these enzymes become active inside the pancreas and they digest the tissue of the pancreas. This causes swelling, bleeding (hemorrhage), and damage to the organ and its blood vessels. This condition is called acute pancreatitis. If the pain comes from the left upper quadrant, possibilities include acute pancreatitis, gastritis, and injury or inflammation of the spleen.

Due to acute pancreatitis, one feel pain in left upper quadrant after Eating. This condition is normally more severe in men as compare to women. Certain diseases, surgeries, and habits make you more likely to develop this condition. Use of heavy alcohol and gallstones are considered as two most common causes of pancreatitis in the United States. In addition, the causes of this pain are often linked to caffeine, chocolate and may be exacerbated by lying flat shortly after eating also.
Causes of Left Upper Quadrant Pain after Eating

Causes of Left Upper Quadrant Pain after Eating

Gastric ulcer pain typically gets worse after eating. Here you can find a brief review of its causes.


Alcers are open wounds that typically form on the lining of the stomach and small intestine. Left-sided abdominal pain after eating, with or without heartburn, may signify an ulcer. It is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. It occurs when stomach acid or contents reflux into the esophagus causing a burning pain known as heartburn, typically more severe after eating.


Pure alcohol and even alcoholic beverages can cause pain in your left upper quadrant by providing a chronological sequence of events. Alcohol use is responsible for up to 70% of cases in the United States. Acute pancreatitis typically requires 5 to 8 drinks per day for 5 or more years.

Stomach, Colon and Small intestine

If you have stomach, colon and small intestine related problems , they can generate left-sided abdominal pain after a meal. Ingested gas in the stomach, or gas created from foods in the intestines, can cause left-sided abdominal pain and fullness.
Additionally swallowing air while eating or drinking or ill-fitting dentures is usually the cause of pain after eating. Constipation or diarrhea affects the colon and small intestines, which may reflect in left-sided abdominal pain after a disagreeable meal or dehydration.


Gallstones are the next most common cause of this pain. The condition develops when the gallstones travel out of the gallbladder into the bile ducts, where they block the opening that drains the common bile duct and pancreatic duct. Genetics may be a factor in some cases. Sometimes, the cause is not known.


It an inflammatory disease that creates tiny pouches in the intestines that can fill with food and waste, causing pain and irregular bowel habits, can also be one reason if you have pain. If the pouches occur on the descending colon, in the left side of the abdomen, the pain will be left sided and can worsen after a meal.

Colorectal Cancer

Continuous and severe left-sided abdominal pain after eating should not be ignored as it may be a sign of colorectal cancer. Cancer is an atypical grouping of cells that grow and mutate into tumors. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer.

Other Causes

Injury to the pancreas after a procedure such as an ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) or EUS (endoscopic ultrasound) with FNA (fine needle aspirate) can be one possible reason behind such pain. Sometime viral infections, including mumps, coxsackie B, mycoplasma pneumonia, and campylobacter may stimulate pain in left upper quadrant.

You should call your health care provider if you have intense, constant abdominal pain. As discussed above , pain in upper quadrant can be dangerous if you develop other symptoms of acute pancreatitis also. It is always said that prevention is good then cure so you may lower your risk of new or repeat episodes of pancreatitis by taking steps to prevent the medical conditions that can lead to the disease. Annual screening with digital rectal examinations, colonoscopy and a full family medical history will assist in early detection of this cancer.

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