Tired of Stomach Pain and Discomfort? Signs It’s Time to See a Gastroenterologist
For most of us, stomach pain is a part of life and comes and goes depending on what we’ve been eating and/or our current level of stress. However, the body does use pain as a warning system, and there are certain types of stomach pains and discomforts that can be a strong indication that something more serious is going on. It’s important to look at the severity of the pain as well as its persistence or frequency to determine whether it’s time to see a doctor. Here are some of the biggest warning signs that a gastroenterologist should be consulted.
- Localized pain that comes on suddenly and gets worse with time: In many cases, this type of pain (especially if it’s sudden) is more likely to be the symptom of a serious problem. Localized pain that gradually becomes more severe may be a sign of inflammation of an abdominal organ, or it may be an indication of a condition like appendicitis, gallbladder disease, or peptic ulcer disease. Severe pain that comes on suddenly may be a symptom of a stomach or intestinal rupture, torsion of a testicle or ovary, or a kidney stone.
- Pain that increases with movement and coughing: If the pain is minimal when you are lying down or otherwise still but grows more intense with movement, then a doctor should be seen. Sometimes this may be caused by strained muscles, but it can also be a symptom of a more serious abdominal issue.
- Pain that builds following a minor abdominal injury: While pain, nausea, and even vomiting commonly occur immediately following the injury, they usually clear up rather quickly. However, pain and other symptoms that continue or grow worse may indicate that an abdominal organ has been damaged.
- Heartburn that occurs two or more times per week: While occasional heartburn pain is fairly common, chronic heartburn should always be checked out by a gastroenterologist. This is important, as untreated heartburn that goes on for a time can cause esophageal damage, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and even esophageal cancer.
- Other symptoms accompany the stomach pain: If there are other symptoms present such as bloody stools, persistent nausea and vomiting, skin that appears yellow, or swelling of the abdomen, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. You should also seek medical attention if the pain is so severe that you can’t sit still or need to curl into a ball.
Even if your stomach pain or discomfort isn’t serious, if it’s persistent and bothersome, then seeing a doctor is still a good idea. He or she may be able to prescribe a course of treatment or even lifestyle changes that can help ease the symptoms. When in doubt, always consult your doctor.