This term is generally used for an attack of spasmodic pain in the abdomen.
Simple colic often results from the build-up of indigestible material in the alimentary tract, leading to spasmodic contractions in the muscular lining. Other causes include habitual constipation, with accumulation of faecal material; simple colic also occurs as an accompaniment of neurological disorders. Major risks include sudden obstruction of the bowel from twisting, INTUSSUSCEPTION, or as a result of a tumour or similar condition. (See also INTESTINE, DISEASES OF.)
Lead colic (traditional names include painter’s colic, colica pictonum, Devonshire colic, dry belly-ache) is due to the absorption of lead into the system. (See LEAD POISONING.)
Biliary colic and renal colic are the terms applied to that violent pain which is produced, in the one case where a biliary calculus or gall-stone passes down from the gallbladder into the intestine, and in the other where a renal calculus descends from the kidney along the ureter into the bladder. (See GALL-BLADDER, DISEASES OF and KIDNEYS, DISEASES OF.)
Treatment This consists of means to relieve the spasmodic pain with warmth and analgesics, and removal, where possible, of the underlying cause.
Infantile colic is a common condition in babies under three months, sometimes continuing for a little longer. The babies cry persistently and appear to their parents to have abdominal pain, although this remains unproven. Swaddling and massage can help, as can simply stimulating the child with movement and noise (rocking and singing). Medication is usually unhelpful, although the most severely aﬀected deserve help because of the deleterious eﬀect of infantile colic on family life.