girl holding stomach

An upset stomach can’t be ignored – go ahead, try it – but that doesn’t mean you should panic either, as those of us who have spent too much time Googling our various aches and pains are wont to do.

"If it lasts for a day or two, it's usually nothing to worry about," said Dr. Eric Esrailian, co-chief of the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, in a recent interview with

That said, sometimes you should worry, or at least not shrug the symptoms off, and Esrailian explains when to do so. In the Prevention article, “6 signs your upset stomach isn’t normal,” Esrailian specifies the times when greater concern is warranted.

The first sign is persistence of symptoms. If they last for more than a few days – especially if you’ve never had them before – call your doctor.

Other signs of concern include what Esrailian calls “alarm features,” such as weight loss, difficulty swallowing, blood in the stool or unusual pain.

Dr. Carl Nordstrom, clinical instructor in the division, agrees with Esrailian and elaborated on the issue of pain for In a recent interview with that outlet, Nordstrom detailed for example, how pain could be a symptom of ulcers,

“Pain due to ulcer disease can have different patterns depending on the location of the ulcer,” Nordstrom said. “In general, ulcers in the stomach tend to cause pain immediately after eating, whereas ulcers in the small intestine (duodenum) get better after eating.”

Pain can also be associated with esophageal problems, heartburn or even a vascular disorder, Nordstrom pointed out in the article, appropriately titled “11 stomach issues that can actually be a bigger deal than you think.”

The take-home message: Don’t panic at those stomach cramps, but keep an internal eye on them. Know what’s normal, what’s not, and when to take action.

Learn more about digestive diseases at the website for the UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases or by checking out these webinars from division experts.