Colic: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 3/8/2019

Colic is a condition described in babies characterized by bouts of irritability, fussing, or crying without an obvious cause.

Babies with colic tend to show symptoms such as fussing, loud crying for no apparent reason, screaming, abdominal tension, clenched fists, and legs that may be pulled up or stiffened and straight. Episodes usually begin in the evening, and other associated symptoms can include facial discoloration (flushing or redness of the face). The episodes of colic tend to last from one to four hours.

Causes of colic

The exact cause is unknown, but certain factors may worsen the symptoms. Factors that can worsen colic include overfeeding in an attempt to reduce the symptoms, feeding high-sugar foods, or anger or anxiety in the infant's environment.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/8/2019

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Pregnancy & Newborns Newsletter

By clicking "Submit," I agree to the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. I also agree to receive emails from MedicineNet and I understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet subscriptions at any time.