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Diagnosing Colic

Before diagnosing colic, your healthcare provider will consider several factors. Some of these factors include your infant's diet, possible causes of the crying, what and how you feed your baby, and how long your baby cries. Your healthcare provider will also look for other medical reasons for the crying, such as constipation, urinary tract infections, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, to name a few.

How Is Colic Diagnosed?

Many conditions can cause excessive crying in a baby, and colic is one of them. Colic is a term often used to describe persistent and excessive crying for no apparent reason during the first three months of life.
Colic is diagnosed only after other medical conditions that cause excessive crying have been ruled out. The diagnosis is often confirmed after the fact, meaning once symptoms have improved.

The History and Physical Exam

Before diagnosing colic, your healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions. This will include questions about:
  • The crying (when it happens, how long it lasts, and what it sounds like)
  • What you do when your baby cries
  • Your infant's diet, stools, urination, and sleep patterns
  • What and how you feed your baby
  • Possible causes of the crying.
Your healthcare provider will also examine your infant, looking for clues that might help explain the crying.

Is It Colic or Something Else?

There are many possible causes of prolonged crying in an infant. Your healthcare provider will consider these before making a diagnosis of colic. Some of these conditions include:
There are also many non-medical reasons why babies cry, including hunger, pain, and being tired or overstimulated (see Understanding a Crying Baby).
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