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When to Call a Doctor About Digestive Problems

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 20, 2020

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 you problems happen more often.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

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.”

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