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Abdominal Colic Causes and Symptoms



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Most babies experience periods of fussing and discomfort.  If crying continues for more than three hours per day and is not due to any known physical or medical issue, then we refer to this as colic.  Most all babies experience this.  The only difference is the degree to which they suffer with it.

Colic Causes

Colic normally occurs at the end of the day.  This is usually around the age when you are beginning to be deprived of sleep.  Your baby begins long periods of screaming and crying every evening.  This can cause a great amount of frustration and even depression for parents.

Colic tends to cause a child to be very sensitive to any stimulation.  Some babies suffer more pain from intestinal gas.  Others cry with hunger and others from eating too much.  Some babies who are breastfed lack tolerance for foods that are consumed by the mother.  Some babies who are bottle-fed cannot tolerate their formula protiens.  Frustration, fear and also excitement can produce abdominal pain or colic.  Sometime people around them that are anxious, worried or depressed will cause babies to cry more, and this rebounds upon the people around them increasing their emotion delemas. 

Approximately 20 percent of babies do enough crying to qualify for the diagnosis of colic.  Colic normally affects babies at around three weeks old and peaks around four to six weeks old.

Colic is not eternal!  Once the mile post of six weeks old passes, the colic will begin to improve.  Slowly at first and then it is totally gone by twelve weeks of age. If colic persists beyond this, one should consider another diagnosis.

Symptoms of Colic

Normally colic will begin at approximately the same time each day.  The evening usually produces the most discomfort for most babies.  The colic will attack rapidly often causing the legs to draw up and the belly to distend.  Hands may clench.  The duration may be minutes or hours.  It frequently dimenishes when exhaustion sets in for the baby or when gas or feces is eliminated.

Even in the presence of such abdominal pain, colicky babies often eat adequately and gain weight.

Colic Exams and Tests

In most cases the colic diagnosis is based on the parent's description of the baby's crying episodes.  A physician will undertake an exam to be certain the baby is not suffering from a hernia, hair tourniquet, intussusception (part of the intestine has telescoped into itself), a hair stuck in the eye or other condition requiring medical intervention.

Treatment of Colic

Treating a colicky child is mostly a matter of observation and common sense.  The goal is to identify and then remove a colic trigger.  If that is not accomplished then one can experiment to see how best to provide comfort.


Foods - Avoid stimulants like chocolate and caffiene if you are breast feeding. Eliminate dairy products as this can cause alergic reactions.

Formula - For most babies switching formula is not helpful but can be of benefit for some.

Medicine - Crying can be caused by medicines ingested by the mother.

Feeding - Avoid overfeeding.  A bottle should not take any less than 20 minutes.  If less, the nipple hole may be too big. Avoid overfeeding your baby or feeding too rapidly.

Some say that mothers who are breast feeding should eliminate cabbage, brocolli or other gas forming foods.  However, there is little evidence to support this belief.


There are some beneficial methods to comfort any baby suffering from abdominal colic.  The methods may vary from baby to baby.  Some like to be wrapped in a blanket and others like their hands and arms to be free.

Holding your baby is most important. The more your baby is throughout the day, the less likely they are to be fussy toward the end of the day.  Your baby will not be spoiled by this.

When babies cry, there is a tendency to swallow air which causes increased gas and possibly more abdominal colic which produces more crying. When fatigue begins to wear on you, try a baby swing for infants a minimum of three weeks of age with good head and neck strength.

Sing to your baby and you will provide a very soothing paliative. This is why lullabies are predominant in every country.

It is often helpful to hold your baby upright. This will cause increased movement of gas and also minimizes heartburn. Place a warm towel or warm water bottle on your babies tummy can produce beneficial results. Also making gentle pressure with your hand on the abdomen may provide comfort.

A pacifier may work a few wonders for you.



WARNING!  This information is provided for academic purposes only.  Always consult a physician before using any home remedy or any other information on this web site.

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