Colic is a concept ready to be set aside. Like ague, and grippe, it’s time to make colic a word no longer part of our language.
You might wonder, why retire a word that still happens? Babies still are quite fussy, and some cry for hours every day, and still appear very much to have colic.
The reason is that in the very vast majority of such situations, we now know that their is a cause for their fussiness.
Imagine if you went to your doctor doubled-over in pain, and the doctor examined you and said, we have figured it out, you have colic. You would go get another doctor who could tell you what was causing your pain, be it stomach flu, food poisoning, appendicitis, kidney stones, or whatever.
Just so with infants, they deserve to know what is causing their pain and be relieved of it as much as any adult.
For infants, episodes of significant and ongoing pain are generally due to one or both of two conditions: heartburn or allergy.
Heartburn is the situation where stomach acid burns the esophagus. You may surprised to learn that babies are very prone to this, since their stomach has no functional top like ours. We can swallow a red soda and stand on our head, and our mouth will not turn red since our stomachs have a functional lid. But infants’ stomachs are like a cup with no lid. All infants spill stomach contents out of their stomach, many spill those contents out their mouth (spitting up). But only about 10% of the time does the acidic stomach spill cause any burning. But when it does, watch out, your infant will start crying in pain for much of the day.
Allergy in infancy is most typically to proteins in cow’s milk, which infants get exposed to via breast milk (if the mother eats any milk products) or by formula.
There are treatments for both heartburn and allergy, and together they relieve the colicky pain seen in infants nearly all the time, ending the whole experience and concept of colic.