The key difference between colic and constipation is that colic is a digestive condition primarily found in newborn babies, where they cry excessively due to gas in their digestive system, milk allergy, or milk intolerance, while constipation is a digestive condition commonly observed in children and older people, characterized by a feeling of discomfort or difficulty in passing stool due to inadequate dietary fiber intake.
Parents often complain about newborn tummy problems to pediatricians. The digestive system of a newborn is in the process of developing. Therefore, newborns may have some difficulties as the digestive system matures. Three of the most common newborn tummy troubles are gas, colic, and constipation. However, constipation can also be observed in other ages, especially in older people.
What is Colic?
Colic is a condition observed in newborn babies. They cry for a very long time because of gas in the digestive system, milk allergy, or milk intolerance. This condition can also be caused by being sensitive, having trouble adjusting to the world, and being unable to calm themselves because babies seem very sensitive to stimulation. Babies with this condition may have symptoms such as burping, red flushed face, tight belly, curling up their legs towards their belly, and clenching their fists while crying.
Colic can be diagnosed through physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging tests like X-rays. Furthermore, treatment options for colic may include soothing practices (using a pacifier, taking the infant for a walk, swaddling the baby in a blanket, giving the baby a warm bath, rubbing the infant’s tummy, playing audio of soothing sounds, providing white noise by running a white noise machine and dimming the lights), changes in feeding practices, trial changes in diet (formula changes and maternal diet), parent self-care, and probiotics.
What is Constipation?
Constipation is a digestive condition that mainly affects children and older people, where they are uncomfortable or straining to defecate. However, this condition can affect anyone at any age. Constipation can be caused by different factors such as eating food low in fiber, dehydration, not getting enough exercise, changes in a regular routine, eating large amounts of milk or cheese, stress, resisting the urge to have bowel movements, medications (antidepressants, NSAIDs, etc.) and medical conditions (endocrine conditions, diabetes, colorectal cancer, irritable bowel disease, etc.). Moreover, the symptoms of constipation include fewer than three bowel movements per week; dry, hard, or lumpy stools; difficulty or pain in passing stools; stomachache or cramps; bloating; nausea; and feeling of not completely emptied bowel.
Constipation can be diagnosed through medical history, physical examination, lab test, imaging tests like CT scan and MRI, colonoscopy, colorectal transit studies, defecography, balloon expulsion test, and anorectal manometry. Furthermore, treatment options for constipation may include self-care, prescription medications (lubiprostone, prucalopride, plecanatide, lactulose, and linaclotide), and surgery.
What are the Similarities Between Colic and Constipation?
- Colic and constipation are two digestive problems.
- These conditions can be observed in newborns.
- They are not life-threatening.
- Both conditions can be diagnosed through physical examination and blood tests.
- They are mainly treated through lifestyle and diet modifications.
What is the Difference Between Colic and Constipation?
Colic is a digestive condition primarily found in newborn babies, where they cry excessively due to gas in their digestive system, milk allergy, or milk intolerance. Meanhile, constipation is a digestive condition commonly observed in children and older people, characterized by a feeling of discomfort or difficulty in passing stool due to inadequate dietary fiber intake. Thus, this is the key difference between colic and constipation. Furthermore, colic is caused by allergy, intolerance, being sensitive and having trouble adjusting to the world, and inability to calm themselves due to sensitivity to stimulation. On the other hand, constipation is caused by eating food low in fiber, dehydration, not getting enough exercise, changes in the regular routine, eating large amounts of milk or cheese, stress, resisting the urge to have a bowel movement, medications, and medical or health conditions.
The below infographic presents the differences between colic and constipation in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Colic vs Constipation
Colic and constipation are two digestive problems due to defects in the digestive tract. Both these conditions can cause embarrassing and uncomfortable feelings in the affected population. Colic is mainly found in newborn babies; they cry for a very long time because of gas in the digestive system, milk allergy, or milk intolerance. In contrast, constipation is mainly found in children and older people, where they feel uncomfortable or straining to pass stool due to a lack of fiber in the diet. So, this summarizes the difference between colic and constipation.
1. “Colic.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
2. “Constipation; Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic.