Go to contents

An Acute Pain in the Side of the Body Signals a Liver Problem

An Acute Pain in the Side of the Body Signals a Liver Problem

Posted April. 04, 2005 00:07,   


Are All Stomachaches Connected to Stomach Troubles?-

Mr. “A”, a 57 year old, suddenly had a severe stomachache two weeks ago while walking on the street. Believing that he had stomach flu, he rushed to emergency room of a hospital.

According to the doctor’s examination, his veins in the face and neck were swollen. The doctor ordered an emergent electrocardiogram check instead of doing a stomach endoscopy. His forecast was correct. Sudden cardiac arrest was the major cause of the stomachache. Mr. “A” was abruptly transferred to the serious patients section in the hospital.

Sudden stomachaches can be caused by abnormalities in lung, liver, and heart. If people have stomachaches that they don’t know the source of, they should check the possible problems those organs might have.

However, when a stomachache occurs when the stomach is empty and disappears after having food or water, then the pain might be related to stomach problems. Food might weaken the pain by counteracting stomach acid.

If the stomach acid flows backwards, a bitter pain attacks from the end of the pit of the stomach to the gullet. It can be accompanied by a stuffy chest. Drinking water can reduce the pain. On the other hand, stomach and duodenal ulcer patients have pain only when they are hungry, and the pain goes away if they eat some food.

Meanwhile, the problem can be highly related to the colon when pain remains at the bottom of the stomach, and the excretion habit fluctuates, such as relieving oneself more often or having attenuated stool.

Does Chest Pain Come from a Weak Heart?-

Mr. “B”, a salary man in his mid thirties, has suffered chest pain for more than two years. The pain varies from smarting to sharp picking. He seriously worries whether he has problems in his lungs or heart.


Following people’s advice, he visited a hospital. He was examined with an electrocardiogram and a lung CT scan. But no abnormal symptoms were found. The doctor told him, “It seems your pain is caused by muscle damage.”

Like the case of Mr. “B,” plenty cases of chest pain come from damage to muscles or a countercurrent of stomach acid. However, chest pain can be a good precursor symptom of heart-related diseases as well. Therefore, a careful examination of chest pains is needed.

A 43-year-old director, “C,” working for a conglomerate, had a slight pain in his chest and was short of breath while hiking lately. Fortunately the pain disappeared right away, but he had a serious problem the next day on his hiking trail. He felt no energy in his body and lost consciousness. It was stricture of the heart.

Like Mr. “C,” people who usually have pain when walking on stairs or hiking should check whether they have heart –related diseases. A 30-mintue-long severe pain that lasts is characteristic of cases of sudden cardiac arrest, but for cases of stricture of the heart, the pain usually stays only two or five minutes and goes away.

Waist Pain Can be Caused By Kidney-related Diseases-

Mr. “D,” in his mid-thirties, lately had an acute pain in his side of torso. In the beginning, he thought it was mere muscle pain. But, the pain got worse and worse. He was thinking of attaching a patch, but changed his mind and visited a hospital.

The diagnosis was totally beyond his expectations. The doctor told him, “Your liver is swollen.” It was caused by heavy drinking. The doctor explained to him, “Your liver got swollen due to the incapacity of your body in dealing with alcohol, and the liver gave pressure to the nearby bones and muscles while swelling.”

What if Mr. “D” had attached a patch following his own diagnosis? Probably the swollen liver would have gone back to the normal size about a week later, and Mr. “D” would have thought that the muscle pain had just disappeared. He would have continued binge drinking as usual and destroying his liver, as well experiencing his liver getting bigger and smaller over and over.

A lot of kidney related diseases accompany pain in the waist. In particular, most pyelitis patients suffer waist pain. Also, a swollen spleen causes pain in the left side of a waist.

Like the above cases, back pain usually occurs when the organs become swollen. So people should visit clinics when they have pain in the waist without apparent reason like going through a difficult work-out.

Indigestion is a Symptom of All Diseases-

Mr. “E,” who is 35 years old, lately has lost his appetite. He easily gets fatigued and a stuffy feeling in his upper right stomach has gotten stronger. The doctor diagnosed him as having a “fatty liver.”

Mr. “F,” a 60 year old, lately had swollen legs and digestion disorder. So far, he had never gotten sick or was forced to lie down due to illness. A stomach endoscopy diagnosed him as having gastritis. However, the symptoms did not ease up although he received gastritis medication. Another fact, that he was drinking two bottles of Soju (Korean Sake) everyday, was found out. The doctor doubted an illness of his liver and had him take ultrasonic wave treatment. Another illness, liver hardening, was found.

The cause of indigestion can be a heart-related disease. Mr. “G,” in his late 40s, belongs to this category of patient. He lately suffered indigestion and his vomiting got serious. The doctor diagnosed him as suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. Like Mr. “G,” 10 percent of patients suffering heart-related illness suffer indigestion and have vomiting without having chest pain.

(References: Professor Ahn Sang-hoon in the Gastroenterology Department at Severance Hospital, Professor Choi Myeong-gyu in the Gastroenterology Department at Kangnam St. Mary’s Hospital, Professor Park Seung-jeong in the Cardiology Department, and Professor Park Soo-gil in the Nephrology Department at Asan Medical Center.)

Sang-Hoon Kim corekim@donga.com