Colic Clinical Presentation

Updated: Oct 31, 2023
  • Author: Prashant G Deshpande, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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History and Physical Examination


Colic remains a diagnosis of exclusion. Crying by infants with or without colic is mostly observed during evening hours and peaks at the age of 6 weeks. The cause of this diurnal rhythm is not known. The amount of crying is not related to an infant's sex; the mother's parity; or the parents' socioeconomic status, education, or ages.

On acoustic analysis, colicky crying differs from regular crying. Compared with regular crying, colicky crying is more variable in pitch, more turbulent or dysphonic, and has a higher pitch. Mothers of infants with colic, unlike mothers of infants without colic, rate the cries as more urgent, discomforting, arousing, aversive, and irritating than usual.

Obtain a detailed history about the timing, the amount of crying, and the family's daily routine. The benign nature of colic should be emphasized. Rule out causes of excessive crying in an infant, such as having hair in the eye, strangulated hernia, otitis, and sepsis.

Physical examination

Perform physical examination to confirm normalcy. Infants with colic often have accelerated growth. Weight gain is typical, whereas failure to thrive should make one suspicious about the diagnosis of colic.