Colic: distinguish between true and false

Colic gives a lot of babies—and their parents—a hard time! Although it is a widespread problem, it remains misunderstood.

Is colic an illness?

The term "colic" describes a condition characterized by baby's frequent, intense, and often uncontrollable crying. Contrary to what one may believe, a child who suffers from colic can be in perfect health. Therefore, it is not an illness, but rather a condition that is observed in babies in their first months of life.

It is generally agreed that we speak of colic when an infant cries more than three hours a day and more than three days a week during several consecutive weeks.

Colic usually appears at least three weeks after birth. Peak frequency is observed in babies aged six to eight weeks. In most cases, it stops after the age of four months.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The main characteristic of colic is its onset in the absence of any apparent reason. Episodes of colic most often occur at the end of the day.

In addition to frequent and intense crying, which is the most obvious symptom, colic may be accompanied by the following signs:

  • arched back
  • tense body, clenched fists
  • legs curled up to the stomach, and
  • presence of gas

However, be careful—some signs and symptoms can indicate a more serious problem than colic and require medical attention. Here are some examples, your child

  • does not gain weight or loses weight
  • does not eat or sleep
  • has vomiting or diarrhea, and
  • has a fever

Is colic related to a digestive problem?

Because colic is often accompanied by digestive symptoms such as burping or gas, it is falsely believed that it is related to an intestinal problem. In fact, no anatomical cause related to colic has been found. The digestive symptoms that accompany it are generally attributable to the fact that the infant swallows air while crying.

Additionally, children who are fed using a prepared formula are not more likely to suffer from colic than those who are breastfed. However, it is important to know that some babies may cry frequently due to a health issue such as an intolerance to lactose, bovine protein, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Therefore, it is better to consult a healthcare professional before changing your baby's diet.

What treatment really works?

Seeing your baby cry is difficult and parents often try to find a miracle solution to comfort their little one. However, one must bear in mind that there is no medical treatment that is truly effective to treat or prevent colic.

The best way to relieve colic is to comfort the infant. Because each child is different, it will probably be necessary to try several strategies before finding the one that works best for your baby. Here are a few suggestions:

  • First, ensure that your child is not hungry or thirsty and that his/her diaper is clean.
  • Also, ensure that your child doesn't show any signs of a possible health issue, such as a fever.
  • Settle into a quiet environment. Very loud noises or bright lights can irritate your baby.
  • Hold your baby in your arms. Skin-to-skin contact often helps soothe your child.
  • Carry your baby in your arms or take him/her out for a walk in a stroller or a car ride. A rocking motion can help soothe your little one.
  • Play soft music or sing to your child. So-called "white noise", such as that of a dryer or a fan can also soothe your baby.
  • Gently massage your baby or give him/her a nice warm bath.

Never give your baby medication or a product to relieve symptoms without first having spoken to your pharmacist, who can inform you of the available options based on your baby’s age and health.

What are the effects of colic in the long-term?

Fortunately, colic stops on its own at about four months of age without any lasting consequences. Therefore, a child who has suffered from colic will develop normally, just as a child who was spared this condition.

Even though colic is a temporary condition, it can be a very stressful time for parents. Don't put off getting all the help you need. Don't let your baby's colic get the best of you and in turn bring you to tears!

Your pharmacist is always there to help if you have any health-related questions!

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Colic: distinguish between true and false

Colic gives a lot of babies—and their parents—a hard time! Although it is a widespread problem, it remains misunderstood.
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