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Colic

Colic is a term used to describe a cramping pain felt in the abdomen. Babies are very prone to colic however, recognizing the cause of their crying may be difficult as they have no way of communicating with you. Babies who are prone to colic usually start showing signs of colic within the first few weeks of their life and continue to experience symptoms of colic until around four months old. There are usually no other symptoms of colic other than prolonged and distressing periods of crying. As it is often difficult to determine the source of the baby’s distress, a baby should only be presumed to be suffering from colic once all other causes of discomfort and pain have been ruled out.

The exact causes of colic are uncertain, but theories include digestive upsets, gas accumulation in the digestive system and abdominal cramping. These symptoms may be as a result of lactose intolerance or an immature digestive system which is not yet able to function correctly. Some babies may also be more prone to crying and the prolonged periods of crying may simply be a result of their nervous temperament. Whatever the cause, it is a very distressing and draining experience for parents to listen to their baby crying without knowing why or what to do. Often parents are left feeling helpless, incompetent and frustrated and this may put strain on their relationship, sleep, emotions and work. Suggestions for parents with colicky babies include changing diet, monitoring bowel movement, and soothing and calming actions such rocking, stroking and rubbing.

Colic in adults includes biliary colic and renal colic. Biliary colic occurs when the gallstone becomes lodged in a either the duct leaving the gall bladder or the common bile duct. This results in severe pain in the upper right hand side of the abdomen. The pain is often accompanied by vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, pale face, perspiration and palpitations. The pain may last half an hour to five hours before subsiding, however if the cause of the colic is not corrected then the pain will return.

Colic can also be a result gas build up or obstruction in the intestines. Colic can be a severely debilitating pain with periods of no pain in between as it typically comes in waves as a result of contractions and relaxations of the affected organ. Please consult your healthcare practitioner if your colic persists for longer than four days.

 

Symptoms

There are usually no other symptoms of colic other than prolonged and distressing periods of crying. As it is often difficult to determine the source of the baby’s distress, a baby should only be presumed to be suffering from colic once all other causes of discomfort and pain have been ruled out.

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