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Distinguishing Between Colic and Other Causes of Crying

Distinguishing Between Colic and Other Causes of Crying

If your baby has colic , you may be concerned that a health condition is causing the excessive crying. Usually a baby with colic is not crying because of pain or physical discomfort. But it is important to be aware that health problems or injuries can cause a baby to cry excessively. And it is important to watch for related signs.

A baby who is in pain may:

  • Have a furrowed brow, wrinkled forehead, or closed eyes.
  • Have a change in his or her daily activities or behavior (such as decreased appetite, irritability, restlessness, or agitated behavior).
  • Sleep more or less than usual. He or she may suddenly start waking up during sleeping, appearing to be in pain. Even if a baby is having severe pain, the baby may take short naps because he or she is exhausted.
  • Grunt when breathing or hold his or her breath.
  • Have clenched fists and pull his or her legs up or kick.
  • Cling to whoever holds him or her, or the baby may be limp and not move at all.
  • Flinch and move to protect a painful area of his or her body when touched.

Common infections in babies that may cause crying are:

A medical condition such as hydrocephalus can cause a baby to cry excessively.

Injuries that may cause crying and can be difficult to identify are:

  • A corneal abrasion. This is a scratch on the clear covering ( cornea ) that covers the colored part of the eye.
  • A broken collar bone (fractured clavicle).
  • A hair wound tightly around a finger or the penis. The hair usually comes from an adult when changing or holding the baby.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised May 10, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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