What Is Colic? Understanding the Different Types of Colic in Infants

Colic refers to severe, often fluctuating abdominal pain, typically experienced by infants. It can be challenging to determine the exact cause of colic, but there are a few different types or potential contributing factors that may play a role. Here are some common types of colic:

1. Infantile Colic

Infantile colic is the most common type of colic in newborns and infants. It is characterized by episodes of excessive crying, fussiness, and apparent discomfort, usually occurring in the late afternoon or evening. The exact cause of infantile colic is not well understood, but it is believed to be a combination of factors such as immature digestive system, gastrointestinal discomfort, sensitivity to stimulation, and possible underlying factors like gas or acid reflux.

2. Gas Colic

Gas colic, also known as flatulent colic, refers to colic symptoms primarily attributed to excessive gas or trapped air in the digestive system. It can cause bloating, abdominal discomfort, and crying in infants. Gas colic can be caused by factors such as swallowing air during feeding, improper feeding techniques, food intolerances, or changes in the gut microbiota.

3. Reflux Colic

Reflux colic, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. Infants with reflux colic may experience frequent spitting up, regurgitation, discomfort after feeding, and crying during or after feeding. Reflux colic can be caused by a weak or immature lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which normally prevents stomach acid from flowing back up.

4. Food Sensitivity Colic

Food sensitivity colic refers to colic symptoms triggered by a baby’s sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods or components in breast milk or formula. Common culprits include cow’s milk protein, soy protein, lactose, and specific allergens. Food sensitivity colic can cause digestive disturbances, allergic reactions, and discomfort in infants.

5. Colic of Unknown Origin

In some cases, colic may occur without a clear underlying cause or specific type. It is referred to as colic of unknown origin. This can make it more challenging to determine the precise factors contributing to the infant’s colic symptoms.

It’s important to note that colic is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning other potential causes of the infant’s symptoms should be ruled out before attributing it to colic. If you suspect your baby has colic or is experiencing persistent and severe abdominal pain, it is essential to consult a pediatrician or healthcare professional for an evaluation and guidance on managing the symptoms.