Some signs of a serious digestive problem may include persistent or severe abdominal pain, blood in your stool or vomit, unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fever or chills. If you have any of these signs, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
• Persistent or severe abdominal pain: This could indicate an inflammation, infection or obstruction of an organ in your digestive system, such as your appendix, gallbladder, colon, small intestine or stomach. Some of the conditions that can cause abdominal pain are appendicitis, gallstones, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or bowel cancer. It could also be caused by other conditions that affect your abdomen, such as pancreatitis, kidney stones, endometriosis or ectopic pregnancy. You should see your doctor if you have abdominal pain that lasts longer than 24 hours, is severe, worsens over time, is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting, blood in stool, fainting or fever, or occurs after an injury or surgery.
• Blood in stool or vomit: This could indicate bleeding somewhere along your digestive tract, from your mouth to your anus. Some of the conditions that can cause bleeding are ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal varices, colitis, polyps, hemorrhoids or bowel cancer. It could also be caused by other conditions that affect your blood vessels or clotting ability, such as peptic ulcer disease, liver disease, von Willebrand disease or anticoagulant medication. You should see your doctor if you notice blood in stool or vomit, especially if it is dark red or black, since it could be a sign of a serious problem.
• Unexplained weight loss: This could indicate malabsorption, malnutrition, infection, inflammation or cancer of an organ in your digestive system, such as your esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver or colon. Some of the conditions that can cause weight loss are celiac disease, crohn’s disease, colorectal cancer, stomach cancer or pancreatic cancer. It could also be caused by other conditions that affect your metabolism or appetite, such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, depression or eating disorders. You should see your doctor if you lose more than 5% of your body weight in 6 months without trying, since it could be a sign of a serious problem.