Colic refers to a state of excessive crying in young infants (less than 4 months old) who are otherwise well. That is, no other medical cause can be found to account for the baby's crying. This condition has also been labelled as "evening colic", "three-month colic", or "infantile colic".
All young infants cry to some degree. Normal infants vary in how much they cry, how intense the crying is, how sensitive they are to stimuli and their reaction to being soothed. However, infants with colic typically exhibit periodic crying spells occurring usually in the evenings, which last for up to 2 - 3 hours. This usually begins soon after the baby comes home from the hospital, and may persist till the baby is 3 or 4 months of age.
Infants with colic usually exhibit one or more of the following signs :
There have been no preventive measures established as yet for colic. Parental education before the child is born may help to allay parental anxiety. Proper child-soothing techniques and appropriate handling of the crying child may reduce anxiety in the parents and help them in coping with the crying child.
Parents should be aware that evening colic resolves itself spontaneously, without any treatment by 3 - 4 months. Colicky babies do not progress to become impatient or aggressive children or adults.
Most babies cry in one or more of the following situations :
Colic is a poorly understood condition without clear known causes.
Some possible causes that have been suggested by doctors include :
All these causes listed above are speculative and the actual cause of colic is not known.
Consultation with a doctorA thorough examination is necessary to exclude a medical cause for the excessive crying. Such medical causes are rare and are usually associated with poor feeding, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation.
Parents should not be unduly worried about the physical examination as it is a normal procedure. With the examination, they will be reassured that no other problem is present.
Techniques to reduce crying
MedicationApplying medication for the relief of colic may not necessarily work all the time. Colic drops, which help in reducing the amount of wind, may help some infants.
The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.
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