COLIC IN INFANTS
DESCRIPTIONColic in infants means repeated episodes of excessive crying that cannot be explained. Crying ranges from fussiness to agonized screaming. Colic is not contagious. The lower intestinal tract most likely is affected. Colic in infants can affect both sexes, but it is more common in boys. Colic affects infants up to 5 months old and is most common in a first child.
Appropriate health care includes:
Home care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications (sometimes).
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSCrying bouts usually occur in late afternoon or evening.
Crying bouts usually begin at 2 to 4 weeks and last through 3 or 4 months.
The infant's abdomen may rumble, and the child may draw up the legs as if in pain.
No specific disease, such as an ear infection, hernia, allergy, or urinary infection, can be discovered.
Excessive crying with the following characteristics:
Unknown. Colic may be related to physical pain or emotional upset. Some likely possibilities include: hunger, insufficient sleep, milk that is too hot, overfeeding, food allergy, reactions to tension in the home, loneliness, or tiredness.
No known risk factor.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCENo specific preventive measures. Remove any causes that can be identified.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSNone expected.
All babies cry, and many have fussy periods. Crying is an important activity and means of communication. Colic is a distressing, but not dangerous, condition. The symptoms can sometimes be relieved. When they can't, the colic will disappear after the 4th or 5th month.
Be patient and tolerant.
Don't feed the baby every time he cries. Look for a reason, such as a gas bubble, a cramped position, too much heat or cold, a soiled diaper, an open diaper pin, or a desire to be cuddled. If the baby stops crying when picked up, the crying is not a result of hunger or gas. If the child continues crying, offer a feeding. If the crying stops then, it is due to hunger.
The symptoms of overfeeding can mimic gas pains. If the baby is still screaming in agony after an hour, gently insert an infant glycerine suppository into the baby's rectum as a last resort.
During an attack of gas, hold the baby securely, and gently massage the lower abdomen. Rocking may be soothing. Apply a good heating pad, set on "low," to the abdomen; be careful not to burn.
Offer the baby a pacifier.
Allow the baby to cry if you are certain everything is all right (not hungry, not soiled, no fever, no open pins) and you have done all you can.
Ask someone to take care of the baby to relieve you as often as possible.
Drugs are used only as a last resort when babies and parents are both exhausted. In that event, your doctor may prescribe anti-spasmodics. If so, carefully follow instructions on the label. Don't use any medicine, including non-prescription medicine, without telling your doctor.
DIET & FLUIDSInterrupt bottle feedings after every ounce and burp the baby. Interrupt breast feedings every 5 minutes.
Allow at least 20 minutes to feed the baby. Don't prop the baby for feedings.
Nipple holes should not be too large. A vigorous baby may require blind nipples in which you can make small homemade nipple holes.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
The baby's rectal temperature rises to 101F (38.3C) or higher.
You fear that you are about to lose emotional control.
The baby is taking a prescription drug, and new, unexplained symptoms develop. The drug may produce side effects.