Diagnosis of Colic

To diagnose infantile colic, other medical conditions (e.g., infection, injury, gastrointestinal disorder) must first be ruled out. Colic diagnosis usually involves taking a complete medical history and performing a thorough physical examination.

A medical history includes information about the infant's behavior patterns (e.g., crying, feeding, sleeping), weight gain, and overall health. Parents and caregivers often are asked to provide detailed information about the timing and intensity of the infant's crying, about changes in his or her feeding and sleeping schedule or bowel habits, and about any other symptoms (e.g., difficulty breathing, frequent spitting up, runny nose, congestion).

The health care provider also may require information about the infant's household. He or she might ask whether there have been any major changes in the home (e.g., loss of employment) recently, whether any other household members have been ill, or whether the mother has made any recent changes to her diet (if breastfeeding).

After taking a thorough medical history, the physician performs a complete physical examination, including a gastrointestinal (GI) exam and a neurological exam. During the physical examination, the infant is evaluated for other symptoms such as fever, lethargy, and poor weight gain.

If the results of the physical examination are normal, laboratory tests usually are not necessary. However, if the physician suspects a medical condition or injury, blood tests, urine tests, imaging tests (e.g., x-rays), and other diagnostic tests may be performed.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015