When to Call a Doctor About Digestive Problems

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on November 17, 2022

Many people get an upset stomach, belly pain, heartburn, or other digestive problems once in a while. But some symptoms should be checked by a doctor. They could be signs of serious medical issues or lead to bigger problems if left untreated.

It’s a good idea to see your doctor if you have:

  • Heartburn that won’t go away or gets worse, or needs more than several weeks of medication for relief.
  • Heartburn that makes you throw up frequently. The stomach acid that comes up to your throat can damage your esophagus.
  • Throwing up blood.
  • A feeling that food is caught in your chest or throat.
  • Belly pain that is unusual or persistent.
  • Unexplained weight loss of 10 or more pounds in less than a year. This can be caused by Crohn’s disease or another condition.
  • Pain when swallowing or trouble swallowing. This might be a sign of damage to your esophagus.
  • Stools that are bloody or black. This could be an ulcer, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis), or cancer, among other causes. 
  • Persistent hoarseness or a sore throat.
  • Diarrhea that won’t stop.
  • Chronic constipation, meaning two or fewer bowel movements a week.

Other reasons to visit your doctor include if your symptoms get worse or if you have new ones, or if your problems happen more often.

Show Sources


National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

University of Pennsylvania: “5 GI Symptoms No Woman Should Ignore.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Unexplained Weight Loss.”

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada: “Bleeding and Blood in the Stool.”

© 2022 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info