Benign, self-limiting condition characterized by excessive crying and fussiness in an apparently healthy infant during the first 3 months of life, without an obvious cause. Etiology is uncertain; proposed causes include feeding habits (overfeeding, underfeeding, swallowing air), allergy, fecal microflora, immaturity of digestive mechanism, environmental exposures (smoking), and psychosocial factors (family stress). Lacking a standard definition, colic might be viewed as crying 3 or more hours a day, 3 or more days a week. Other characteristics include a piercing, distressing, or dysphonic cry, a paroxysmal pattern, tightening of muscles, facial flushing, and inability to be consoled, all to a greater degree than normal crying.
Ruling out a checklist of potential pain triggers and more serious conditions, management includes helping parents cope with the colicky behavior, finding interventions to remediate feeding difficulties, limiting environmental stimulation, and developing calming routines to help comfort the infant. Key to infant-parent relationship building is helping parents manage stress. Care should be taken to observe for signs of parental harm to the infant.
ICD10CM: R10.83 – Colic
SNOMEDCT: 35363006 – Infantile colic
Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls
Other gastrointestinal-related causes in the differential can include: