Colicky abdominal pain symptoms in adults

stomach image by Alison Bowden from

Although colic is usually a condition associated with babies, adults can suffer similar symptoms. There are a number of underlying conditions that can provoke colicky pain in adults, as well as a variety of ways to treat or manage the symptoms.

If you have colicky pain and are concerned, it is important to consult a doctor to determine the cause.


Colic is identified as a pain in the abdomen, lower back or chest that commonly occurs after eating. It might be associated with certain foods, such as spicy or dairy foods. This symptom can also be accompanied by other secondary symptoms, such as tiredness, bloating, wind, heartburn and irritability. The pain might travel from the front of your body to the back, or may be inconsistent. In some cases, it might be a sharp, stabbing pain rather than the ache that most people associate with abdominal discomfort.


Colicky pain can be very uncomfortable and might seriously affect your quality of life. The associated symptoms can also cause discomfort. There are several different causes of colic pain, from irritable bowel syndrome to kidney stones, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor. Some conditions will require immediate treatment while others will need to be managed. Establishing the correct cause will enable you to get the correct treatment and prevent the underlying condition from becoming any worse.


Abdominal pain can be caused by several conditions. It might be due to a food intolerance, such as an allergy to dairy or soy, in which case symptoms will usually show up after eating foods containing these substances. Colicky abdominal pain can also be due to kidney stones, which might need to be broken up with laser treatments. This kind of abdominal discomfort can also be found in irritable bowel syndrome sufferers or people experiencing stress.

Prevention and Solution

The prevention and solution to colicky abdominal pain will depend on the cause. If the symptoms are not immediately treatable and need to be managed, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medication needed. If the cause is environmental--caused by a food intolerance--eliminating that food from your diet will help ease the pain. Alternatively, there are a number of herbal remedies that act as antispasmodics. These include calamus, ginger, wild yam and peppermint, which can be bought in supplement form from a health food store.


Irritable bowel syndrome is easily confused with other conditions as it presents similar symptoms to several other gut disorders. If your doctor suspects you have irritable bowel syndrome, a blood test will be conducted to rule out other conditions that may cause colicky pain, such as anaemia, coeliac disease, infections and colitis. In rare cases, your doctor might also want to conduct an endoscopy, where they examine your bowel using a small telescope. This is also to rule out other conditions that might be causing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.