What is Your Stomach Saying?

It must have been something you ate. Or was it?

Although gastrointestinal troubles—constipation, bloating, heartburn, or diarrhea—are common, they can also be a red flag that something more serious is going on.

Here’s what your symptoms might mean and which demand a prompt visit with your physician.


Not drinking enough fluid, being inactive, not eating enough fiber, and taking certain medications.

Call your doctor if… you notice blood in your stools, start losing weight without reason, or feel fatigued, which are red flags for colon cancer. Also, call your doctor if constipation is new and unusual for you or has lasted three weeks or more, despite in-home treatment.


Most commonly caused by irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. But it can be a red flag for more serious and rare conditions.

Call your doctor if… bloating is affecting your daily activities. Even if it’s not life-threatening, it can affect the quality of your life.


Chronic or severe heartburn is a common symptom of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). But a peptic ulcer or gastric or esophageal cancer can cause it, too.

Call your doctor if… you’re not getting enough relief from over-the-counter or prescription medications. If you’re only getting partial relief, don’t wait more than two weeks to tell your physician.


A virus or bacteria from contaminated food can cause diarrhea for one to three days. On the more serious side note, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, or an intestinal blockage can trigger diarrhea and demand the immediate attention of your doctor or an emergency room physician or a visit to Bingham’s 1st Choice Urgent Care & Family Medicine in Blackfoot.

Interested in learning more about what your gut is telling you? You might find this series of articles and videos quite interesting, too.

  • Gurgle, Gurgle Goes My Gut
  • Part I: Keeping your gut in check (more about constipation)
  • Part II: Keeping your gut in check (more about gas and bloating)
  • Part III: Keeping your gut in check (more about heartburn)
  • Part IV: Keeping your gut in check (more about diarrhea and unknown symptoms)

Need a Gastroenterologist?

Dr. Eric A. Wingerson is double board certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine and fellowship trained in gastroenterology at Bingham Memorial Hospital, a proud member of Bingham Healthcare.

He diagnoses and treats disorders of the digestive tract. His specialties include diagnosing and treating heartburn from GERD, abdominal pain, persistent nausea and vomiting, bowel habit disorders, peptic ulcer disease, liver, gall bladder, and pancreas disorders, swallowing disorders, inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, and hemorrhoidal disease.

He sees patients in Blackfoot and Idaho Falls. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call (208) 785-3800 in Blackfoot or (208) 535-3625 in Idaho Falls or visit: www.BinghamMemorial.org

Our content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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