When to get help

When should I see my doctor?

Everyone experiences occasional digestive upsets such as indigestion, flatulence or a disturbance of bowel habit. These can be regarded as normal and are often caused by diet, lifestyle or a change in routine.

If symptoms of this sort persist or worsen, or if you develop new digestive symptoms which you have not previously experienced, these may be caused by a digestive disorder which needs treatment.

You should see your doctor if you experience the following symptoms, particularly if they are unexpected or persistent:

  • Abdominal pain before or after meals.
  • Persistent feeling of fullness, bloating or flatulence.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Heartburn, regurgitation or waterbrash.
  • Pain or difficulty in swallowing.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Continuing unexplained weightloss.
  • Indigestion developing for the first time in mid or later life.
  • Persisting diarrhoea, constipation or any alteration in bowel habit.
  • Change in your stools (bowel motions), especially if they become black, dark red, pale or contain mucus (slime).
  • Bleeding when you pass a stool.
  • Pain when you pass a stool.
  • Feeling that your bowels are emptying incompletely.
  • Generally feeling tired, lethargic or unwell in association with any abdominal symptoms.
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