Colic and Homeopathy
Colic is commonly described as a behavioural syndrome in neonates and infants that is characterized by excessive, paroxysmal crying. Colic is most likely to occur in the evenings, and it occurs without any identifiable cause. The term infant with colic applies to any healthy, well fed infant who cries more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks.
Here’s what we know about it: Colic usually starts around age 2 weeks in a full term infant (or later in a premature infant). It almost always goes away on its own by 3 or 4 months. Gender, breast or bottle feeding, and birth order don’t affect it. Kids who had colic as babies are no different than those who didn’t. It is also important to remember that not all fussy babies suffer from colic. Most infants normally cry two to three hours per day, but this is usually spread out during the 24hour period.
Causes of Infantile Colic and Crying
The cause of colic is generally unknown. About 1 in 5 babies cry long enough to be considered colicky. The timing varies, but colic usually affects babies beginning at about 3 weeks of age. It peaks somewhere between 4 - 6 weeks of age. The crying associated with colic usually occurs at the end of the day. Babies with colic tend to be unusually sensitive to stimulation. Some babies have more discomfort from intestinal gas. Some cry from hunger, others from overfeeding. Some cannot tolerate certain foods or proteins in breast milk or formula. Fear, frustration, or even excitement can lead to colic symptoms. When other people around the baby are worried, anxious, or depressed, babies may cry more. Medical cause for the crying and fussiness and possible reasons for irritability include: Infection of the ears and urinary tract are common spots, Acid reflux or stomach problems, Pressure or inflammation of the brain and nervous system, Eye trouble like a scratch or increased pressure, Irregular heartbeat and Injury to bones, muscles, or fingers.
Infants of mothers who smoke during pregnancy or after delivery have a greater risk of developing colic.
Many other theories about what makes a child more susceptible to colic have been proposed, but none have been proved. For instance:
- Colic doesn’t occur more often among firstborns or formula fed babies.
- A breastfeeding mother’s diet probably doesn’t trigger colic.
- Girls and boys — no matter what their birth order or how they’re fed — experience colic in similar numbers.
The crying or fussing most frequently begins suddenly and often after a feeding. The cry is loud and the spells last from one to four hours. The baby’s face often gets flushed or red. The belly is sometimes distended or prominent, the legs alternating between flexed and extended straight out~ the feet are often cold and the hands clenched. The episodes, while they can occur at any time of the day or night, typically begin in the late afternoon or early evening, just when parents or caregivers are most exhausted. There are some babies who are more prone to infantile colic than others. It is generally believed that if one or both parents were colicky, their baby is more at risk. Infantile colic typically begins at about 2 to 3 weeks of age, reaches its peak at 2 months, begins to subside by 3 months, and is gone by 3½ to 4 months of age. But the frustrating fact remains that although one in four babies has colic and much research has been done on the topic, there is no one proven cause of colic. In some studies, no discernible cause was found for one quarter of those babies who suffered from colicky episodes. This reality is very frustrating for most parents. It is certainly known that amongst all colicky babies, there are factors that may worsen the colic.
- Overfeeding in an attempt to lessen the crying.
- Feeding certain foods, especially those with high sugar content (for example, undiluted juices), may increase the amount of gas in the intestine and worsen the situation.
- The presence of excessive anger, anxiety, fear, or excitement in the household.
- A multitude of other factors as yet unknown on physical examination, the keys to the diagnosis are as follows:
- Normal physical findings.
- Weight gain: Infants with colic often have accelerated growth~ failure to thrive should make one suspicious about the diagnosis of colic.
- Exclusion of potentially serious diagnoses that may be causing the crying.
Management for Colic*
Some suggestions to manage infantile colic: It is critically important to consult the baby’s doctor at the very beginning of the suspected colic symptoms. While there are no tests that can be done where the results come back “colic,” it is very important to exclude several other causes of crying or sudden onset screaming in a new-born.
- Do not overfeed! Stick to the baby’s regular feeding schedule of timing and amount of milk taken, as measured in ounces in the bottle-fed baby or in minutes on the breast in the breastfed baby.
- Breastfeeding mothers should avoid too many milk products (“you don’t have to drink mil to make milk”), caffeine, onions, cabbage, beans, broccoli, and other gas producing, irritating foods. Be sure that if the baby is taking juices, that they are very diluted, or just offer plain water. If babies are really thirsty, they will drink it. Avoid juices (young infants should not be drinking juice anyway).
- Take a break! When the anxiety, fear, and tension get to be too much (or perhaps an hour before!), try to have someone else watch the baby, even for an hour, and leave the house. Try to keep a positive attitude.
- Use gentle heat or touch. Give your baby a warm bath. Softly rub your baby’s belly.
- Give your baby some private time. If nothing else seems to work, put your baby in his or her crib for five to 10 minutes.