Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

If you have indigestion that does not clear up after several weeks with simple home treatment, you should make an appointment with your GP to rule out more serious problems.

The doctor will ask you questions like:

  • What are your exact symptoms?
  • How long have you had them?
  • What brings your symptoms on?
  • What relieves your symptoms?

Your doctor may examine you physically to locate any tender places in your abdomen and to check your general health. Most people with indigestion do not need more tests. Your GP will usually be able to make an accurate diagnosis based on your symptoms and to offer you advice or treatment.

When are further tests necessary?

Your GP may feel that further investigation are necessary when:

  • You have a suspected peptic ulcer
  • Your symptoms don’t respond to treatment
  • Your symptoms indicate an underlying disease.

If your indigestion is associated with loss of appetite and weight, and difficulty swallowing, your GP will send you for more tests. These symptoms always need urgent medical advice. Further investigations are also usually needed if you developed your symptoms recently and are over 40 – unless there is a very obvious reason. Stomach cancer uncommon in those under 40, but it cannot be ruled out in people over this age who experience indigestion for the first time.

Will I need to go to hospital?

Many people don’t need investigation, but as persistent indigestion may suggest a more serious underlying complaint, your GP may arrange:

  • An endoscopy – this involves swallowing a slim flexible telescope with a light in the end to enable the doctor to view the stomach
  • A barium meal test – this involves swallowing a liquid that enables the outline of the stomach to show up on x-ray
  • An ultrasound scan – this technique uses reflected sound waves to show the structure of abdominal organs – it does not involve passing any tubes into the body
  • A blood test to detect anaemia or other abnormality.