A baby crying from colic.
Colic is known to cause excessive crying in babies.

What is Colic?

Crying is a normal part of a baby's development during the first three months. Mothers generally understand why their baby is crying, but may not know why their child is crying excessively.

You have changed your child’s diaper. You have fed your child, yet despite these actions, the baby still cries inconsolably. You massage the baby's tummy, applying gentle pressure thinking it could be some sort of gas causing tummy pain, but still the baby is fussy. You may start to feel the stress and want to seek professional help.

The scenario could be a case of infantile colic. It is commonly termed colic and used to describe a baby's condition of excessive crying and irritability.

Signs of Colic

Your baby might have a flushed face and his or her fists may be clenched as they cry out loud with a high-pitch scream. They also tend to pull their legs towards their abdomen.

Usually, parents decide to seek professional help when there is a presence of inconsolable crying and the baby is showing symptoms of abdominal discomfort.

Doctors generally use a rule of three to identify if a baby is having colic:

  • The baby should be crying for more than three hours a day.
  • This incident has been occurring for more than three days per week and more than three weeks.
  • The status of the baby must be noted to be well-fed with no underlying medical condition.

Causes of Colic

While the causes remain unclear, doctors will consider underlying diseases that are measurable and observable. If the doctor has excluded the possible underlying organic causes, then the baby could be experiencing colic.

Gastrointestinal Gas

As part of normal colon function, gastrointestinal gas build-up is a natural occurrence in the human body. This physiological function together with aerophagia, or swallowing of air, can lead to an increased presence of gas inside the belly. This, in turn, induces excessive crying in babies if the gas is not passed through burping or flatulence. Also, hyperperistalsis, or increased bowel contractions, can result in abdominal cramping and colic.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Studies have shown that there is a subtle difference in crying patterns of babies with colic compared to babies without colic. The difference lies in the duration of the cry and the difficulty in soothing it once the crying has started.

Feeding Style

According to a publication, the prevalence of colic in exclusively breastfed babies is the same as in babies fed with formula milk.

Documenting Before Seeing a Doctor

It is important to write down the experience you are having with your child, as the doctor will ask you about your baby's behavior throughout the day. This could be about how they react to your voice, the sounds in their environment and objects. Other developmental milestones may be asked as well. The length of crying episodes should be noted, as well as the time of the day of the occurrence. You must be able to describe the characteristics of crying as well.

The doctor may even inquire about the family's daily routine, so be ready to have some notes regarding this information. A physical examination will be performed and if it is normal and the baby is gaining weight accordingly, there may be no need for laboratory and radiographic tests.

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How is Colic Managed?

Colic is typically managed with three different types of drugs. Simethicone is prescribed for use on babies and children. It works by decreasing the gastrointestinal gas by allowing it for easier passage. Cimetropium bromide is used in countries like Italy, but not approved in the United States and Canada. It is an anti-spasmodic drug that causes a reduction in the symptoms of stomach cramping. A study says that it causes a significant decrease in the length of crying spells of infantile colic. Dicyclomine hydrochloride, an anticholinergic drug, has been effective in clinical trials to treat colic in infants, but it is now not recommended for use due to its adverse effects such as apnea and syncope.

Coping with Baby Colic

You may feel inadequate to provide care for your baby, but, you are the most important key player in managing the colic of your baby. This condition is profoundly disturbing. However, colic is a self-limiting problem that resolves over time. Make sure you talk to your family doctor about the problems you are facing and get advice on how to keep your mind and body healthy.

Get support from your loved ones too, and have a handy list of things you can do to alleviate your stress to maintain your state of well-being.