What are the Symptoms of Colic?

Kerrie Main

Colic is an ailment that affects up to 25 percent of all babies. The causes of colic are unknown, but the symptoms of colic are difficult to ignore. They typically include intense crying fits that occur about the same time every day, changes in the baby’s posture and signs of infant discomfort. There is no known treatment for colic, but there are several things that parents and caregivers can do to relieve and try to prevent excessive colic pain in their infants.

Colic could be related to a breastfeeding mother's diet.
Colic could be related to a breastfeeding mother's diet.

Most babies cry and exhibit signs of fussiness, but infants with colic have extreme episodes. One of the first major symptoms of colic is predictable crying fits. These episodes generally occur in the late afternoon or early evening several times a week. They might last from just a few minutes up to several hours. Some infants experience these symptoms of colic three or four times a week, and others might have them every day.

Colic can be frustrating, since nothing seems to bring the baby relief.
Colic can be frustrating, since nothing seems to bring the baby relief.

The crying fits might begin suddenly and without any warning signs. Many babies have high-pitched, screaming-like crying and red faces when they are in the middle of a colic crying fit. The infant might be inconsolable, and parents often feel helpless. Some babies pass gas or have a bowel movement at the very end of the crying fit.

When a baby’s posture undergoes significant changes, he or she might be displaying other symptoms of colic. For example, infants who have colic typically clench their fists and tighten their abdominal muscles in the middle of a colic episode. Another symptom of this aliment is when a baby alternates stretching out his or her legs and pulling them tightly up to his or her stomach repeatedly. Some infants suffering from colic also have cold feet.

Infants that demonstrate feelings of pain or discomfort might be exhibiting other common symptoms of colic. Each baby has its own set of symptoms, and some colic babies have problems falling asleep and remaining asleep. Other signs include fussiness during or after feeding periods, difficulty passing gas and appearing to be physically uncomfortable.

There is no proven treatment for colic, but many parents use home remedies and other techniques to combat its symptoms. Some caregivers believe that swaddling a baby helps relieve the colic pain. Others advise that parents do not give their infant foods that are high in sugar or undiluted juice drinks. Mothers who breastfeed should eliminate spicy foods, caffeine, dairy products and gas-producing foods such as broccoli, cabbage and beans. Gripe water, typically made with sodium bicarbonate, chamomile, ginger, fennel and dill, also might be helpful in relieving the symptoms of colic.

Excessive crying is a symptom of colic.
Excessive crying is a symptom of colic.

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