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Indigestion And Stomach Pain: When Is It Time To Call Your Doctor?

Upset stomach, also known as dyspepsia, is very common. In fact, most people will experience bouts of stomach trouble at certain points during their life. The causes for such upsets vary widely from the ingestion of an overly spicy meal, to prolonged stress. While these causes aren't life threatening, some causes of stomach upset are quite alarming and require medical attention. Symptoms caused by gallstones, ulcers and other serious conditions should be reported to your family care doctor immediately. Since stomach symptoms mimic each other, it can be difficult to tell which symptoms are serious enough to require your doctor's care. Following are three signs it's time to call your doctor.

Mild but Prolonged Symptoms

Most mild stomach symptoms, such as heartburn, nausea, belching and bloating, are quite common and easy to ignore. Felt primarily in the area of your breastbone, these symptoms can cause discomfort and pain that radiates up into your chest. Symptoms associated with mild stomach problems also include loss of appetite and general malaise. If you experience symptoms more than two times a week for a period of two weeks or more, it's time to see your doctor. You should also seek medical attention immediately if any of the following symptoms appear:

  • Weight loss
  • Black stools
  • Severe chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

Severe, Sharp Pain

Gallbladder attacks and gallstones can lead to an emergency situation where surgery becomes necessary to alleviate the symptoms. Gallbladder pain, most commonly felt on your right side just under your rib cage, is intense and sharp. Acute pain felt in other areas of the abdomen can indicate other problems, such as appendicitis, bowel obstruction and bleeding ulcer. If you have a sudden onset of acute pain, you should always seek medical attention. 

Intestinal Gridlock

Everyone gets constipated now and then. However, if your symptoms last for more than three weeks, you should talk to your doctor. Also, call your doctor if you notice any other symptoms, such as bloody stools, stomach pain and weight loss. If your intestinal gridlock is making it impossible for you to eat, you should discuss this with your doctor as well. 

As you can see, there are several gastrointestinal symptoms that you should be talking to your doctor about. Even if you think your symptoms are simply caused by a simple upset stomach, you should bring them up to a doctor (such as one from Walton Family Medicine PC) if they do not go away within a couple of weeks.