Indigestion, Acid Reflux, Heartburn – Do You Need To See Your Doctor?


Probably three out of every four people who suffer from indigestion never seek medical advice: they relieve their symptoms by a few changes to their lifestyle and every now and then buy over-the-counter treatments, such as antacids or acid blocking drugs, from the chemist.

When to take action

The aim of this article is to help you to decide whether and when to consult your doctor. You should make an appointment if any of the three following descriptions applies to you.

Sinister symptoms

See Your GP without delay if you have any symptoms of the kind doctors call ‘sinister’, by which they mean symptoms that might be caused by a serious disease such as stomach cancer.

Early diagnosis and treatment give the best chance of a cure, so get prompt medical advice if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Vomiting blood or a brown material that bears resemblance to ground coffee.
  • Passing altered blood in the motions.
  • Indigestion while you are taking non steroidal ant inflammatory drugs.

No improvement

Although indigestion without these sinister symptoms can sensibly be treated at home in the first instance by changes to your lifestyle and over-the-counter remedies such as antacids, you should not persist if there is no improvement. Consult your doctor if your symptoms have not cleared up within two weeks of starting self treatment.

Unusual symptoms

You should consult your doctor if you develop indigestion for the first time in your life after the age of 40, or if you develop a type of indigestion that you have not had before. Your doctor may need to arrange various tests and investigations before beginning treatment