What Is Wrong With My Stomach?

Has your stomach been acting up? It can be frightening to experience digestive symptoms, yet not know what is wrong. Of course, if your stomach has been causing you problems, you need to make an appointment with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. But while you are waiting to see your doctor, you can perhaps soothe your worries by educating yourself. In this overview you will get a sense of some of the more common reasons why people experience stomach problems, as well as find some resources for finding the right doctor.

Chronic Upper Abdominal Stomach Problems

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Although the location of symptoms and the location of the problem don't always line up exactly, there are several digestive disorders that are related to digestive organs higher up on the "conveyor belt" that is your digestive system. Symptoms of upper abdominal problems may include excessive burping, burning in the throat or upper chest, nausea, vomiting, or pain in the upper abdomen.

Here are some of the more common reasons behind upper abdominal pain, discomfort and other symptoms (you can click through to read about the symptoms of each):

Chronic Lower Abdominal Stomach Problems

Woman holding her stomach in pain
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As with upper abdominal symptoms, pain in the lower abdomen does not necessarily mean that the problem lies in the intestines, as pain can radiate. That being said, there are several digestive disorders that can contribute to intestinal symptoms, including lower abdominal pain, cramping, and bowel movement problems. Here are some of the more common ones:

Is It Cancer?

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You don't need to think you are crazy if you are worried that you may have cancer. This is a very common, understandable fear. The best way to address this fear is to be examined by your doctor. 

Cancer often, although not always, presents with some "red-flag" symptoms. These include:

  • Signs of rectal bleeding, such as blood on the stool
  • Persistent lack of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, persistent fatigue
  • Frequent fevers
  • Persistent, recurrent pain
  • Anemia

How to Find a Doctor

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Reading all about stomach problems on the Internet is only your first step in getting answers. A medical doctor is best equipped to assess what may be behind your digestive distress. If you are experiencing any "red-flag symptoms", such as rectal bleeding, it is essential that you seek immediate medical care.

If you have a family physician, you will probably want to start there. However, it is likely that they will refer you to a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases and disorders of your digestive tract.

Note that some gastroenterologists will not accept new patients without a referral from a primary-care provider (your insurance company may require this referral as well).

Need help in locating a doctor? The following sites can help:

  • UCompareHealthCare: This service provides you with free reports on physicians in your community. If you do not already have a primary care physician, you could start by choosing "Internal Medicine" on the Specialty drop-down menu. If you would like specialized digestive care in the form of a gastroenterologist, you would choose "Gastroenterology" from the drop-down menu.
  • Physician Locator: This site is provided as a service by the American College of Gastroenterology. Simply plug in your geographic location and you will be provide with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of gastroenterologists in your area (U.S. and Canada only).



"Signs and Symptoms of Cancer" American Cancer Society Website accessed June 14, 2016.

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