The pain experienced on the right side of the belly in most cases is not severe and is usually just a sign of excess gas in the intestine.
However, symptom may persisist and may be worrisome, especially when the pain becomes too intense or lasts for a longer period. This may be a sign of a more serious condition such as appendicitis or gallstone.
Therefore, whenever this type of pain arises, it is recommended to take note of the characteristics which may include: Understanding if there is any other type of pain that when it arises, it radiates to another region or worsens, or it improves with a specific type of movement. This information will be very important for the doctor, to help him arrive at the right diagnosis so as to start the most appropriate treatment.
The most common causes of pain on the right side of the belly include:
1. Excess gas
Abdominal pain that is felt directly on the sides can simply be a distension of the intestine by gases. This is a common situation that can affect people of all ages, from babies to the elderly. The pain is usually very strong and it comes in the form of twinges and it mainly arises after taking a meal. This symptom is also very common during pregnancy especially during the last trimester. It may also affect people with constipation or those who experience other changes in bowel rhythm.
Other symptoms: One may experience severe pain in form of twinges, a sensation of a swollen belly, loss of appetite, feeling of heat in the stomach and an increased feeling of satiety. The pain can be persistent and it may get worse after a few moments but it never disappears completely.
What to do: It is recommended to regularize intestinal functioning by consuming foods rich in fiber and drinking plenty of water. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to take laxative medications such as actulone, magnesium hydroxide, or bisadadil, as prescribed by the doctor.
2. Irritable bowel
People with irritable bowel syndrome may experience symptoms of discomfort or localized pain around the abdomen. This pain can be constant or it may go back and forth, such as cramps. The pain is usually relieved by defecation.
Other symptoms: Aside from abdominal pain, other symptoms experienced include diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal swelling and presence of gas. The exact cause of the disease is not known. It is mainly common in people who experience anxiety, depression or psychological disorders.
What to do: It is advisable t go to the doctor who will investigate the cause of the pain, excluding other causes, and to start the most appropriate treatment. The doctor may ask for more details of how the pain manifests itself, its intensity and the appearance of the stool. In addition, other remedies that can be used include hyoscine, which will combat the cramps. It also recommended that an adjustment to the diet is made such as eating small amounts of food, slowly and avoiding foods such as beans, cabbage and those that are rich in fermentable carbohydrates.
Pain on the right side of the belly can also be due to a stone in the gallbladder. It usually manifests as colic that is mainly located on the direct and upper side of the abdomen or in the stomach region. The pain may last from minutes to hours and it can often radiate to the left side of the abdomen or the back. It also characterized by discomfort and poor digestion.
Other symptoms: In some cases, the stone in the gallbladder can also cause lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting. The stones may also cause inflammation for the gallbladder and it may be accompanied by fever, chills and the skin may become yellowish in colour.
What to do: Once the stone in the gallbladder has been confirmed by ultrasound, treatment may be done by performing a laparoscopy surgery. One should remember that when the gallstone does not cause any symptoms then it sis not necessary to perform surgery. This is exceptional when the patient has diabetes or compromised immunity with calcification of the gall bladder or when the stones are very large.
Appendicitis causes pain on the right side of the abdomen. It usually begins with a slight colic around the navel or in the stomach region. The inflammation worsens after approximately 6 hours and the pain becomes stronger and it is mostly experienced in the lower region near the groin.
Other symptoms: One may also experience loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, the intestine may become too loose or trapped, fever reduces to 30ºC and there will also be hypersensitivity in the lower right abdomen as well as abdominal stiffness.
What to do: In case of suspicion of appendicitis, one should go to the emergency room because in most cases, surgery is required to remove the appendix.
5. Acute Hepatitis
Abdominal pain experienced on the right side of the body, in the upper part of the abdomen, may be one of the symptoms of hepatitis. This disease is characterised by inflammation of the liver. It has several causes that may be viral or bacterial, alcoholism, use of various medications, autoimmunity and degenerative diseases.
Other symptoms: Other symptoms of hepatitis include sea sickness, vomiting, loss of appetite, headache, dark coloured urine, yellowish skin and eyes, as well as excretion of light stools.
What to do: When you experience symptom of hepatitis, it necessary to take enough rest, drink plenty of water and avoid foods that are difficult to digest. Medications that can be prescribed by the doctor to combat the disease include interferon in the case of hepatitis C or immunosuppressants in the case of autoimmunity.
For pancreatitis, the abdominal pain is usually experienced in the lower abdomen and it mat radiate to the back and left shoulder. The pain may arise shortly after consuming alcoholic beverages or after taking a meal.
Other symptoms: One may also feel sick, vomiting, fever, low blood pressure, yellowish skin and a palpable mass in the sore region.
What to do: In case of suspicion of pancreatitis, one should go to the emergency room so that tests such as ultrasound or tomography can be performed. Treatment can be done by taking painkillers and antibiotics, but in some cases performance of surgery may be the best option.
7. Pain during ovulation
Some women experience pain on the side of the ovary during ovulation and this is also known as mid-cycle pain. The pain is not usually very strong and it is experienced during the ovulation days. It can be experienced on the right side in one month then on the left in the other month. This pain can also be as a result of endometriosis, ovarian cysts or ectopic pregnancy.
This pain is considered normal and although it can be very intense, it is usually not a cause for concern.
Other symptoms: The main symptom experienced is usually abdominal pain on one side of the belly that can be in form of a snag, twinge or colic. It is felt about 14 days before menstruation, in a 28 day cycle.
What to do: The pain caused by ovulation usually lasts for just a day and therefore one can take analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol or naproxen so as to relieve the discomfort. If you’re in doubt, then you can talk to a gynaecologist who will confirm the hypothesis.
In addition one can also resort to non-pharmacological options such as application of a hot compress in the region or infusion with calming plants.
8. Renal colic
The presence of stones in the kidneys or bladder can prevent the flow of urine. This causes moderate to severe pain on the affected side and it may radiate to the back or genitalia.
The pain may appear suddenly and it is more common in people who are aged between 30 and 60 years, in equal frequency in both men and women.
Other symptoms: Other symptoms of renal colic include nausea, vomiting, chills, pain when urinating, blood in urine, and in case of an infection there may also be fever.
What to do: Apart from going to the emergency room for clinical evaluations and conducting examinations, the doctor may prescribe some drugs that will relive the symptoms. These include anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics and antispasmodics.
Warning signs to go to the hospital
Warning signs that indicate the need to go to the hospital for further examination include:
- Pain that arises suddenly and is very strong, localized or that gradually worsens
- If there is fever, or difficulty in breathing
- If there is high blood pressure, aquicardia, cold sweat or malaise
- Vomiting and diarrhoea that don’t pass
In such cases, aside from evaluating the signs and symptoms, the doctor may also request the performance of other diagnostic tests or computed tomography.