What is it?
Croup is a childhood condition that affects the windpipe (trachea), the airways to the lungs (the bronchi) and the voice box (larynx).
Children with croup have a distinctive barking cough and will make a harsh sound, known as stridor, when they breathe in.
They may also have a hoarse voice and find it difficult to breathe because their airway is blocked.
What are the symptoms?
A child can get croup at any time of the year, although it’s more likely to occur during late autumn or early winter. This may be because there are more viruses, such as colds and flu, around at this time of year. Typical symptoms of croup include: * a bark-like cough * a hoarse and croaky voice * difficulty breathing * a harsh grating sound when breathing in, called stridor Stridor is often most noticeable when the child cries or coughs. But in more severe cases of croup it can also occur when the child is resting or sleeping. Symptoms tend to be worse at night. Some children have cold-like symptoms for a few days before developing croup symptoms. These cold-like symptoms can include: * sore throat * runny nose * cough * high temperature (fever) Although croup symptoms usually only last for a few days, they can occasionally last up to two weeks.
- Stay calm. Comfort or distract your child — cuddle, read a book or play a quiet game. Crying makes breathing more difficult.
- Moisten the air. You can use a humidifier or sit with the child in a bathroom filled with steam generated by running hot water from the shower.
- Hold your child in a comfortable upright position. Hold your child on your lap, or place your child in a favorite chair or infant seat. Sitting upright may make breathing easier.
- Offer fluids. For babies, water, breast milk or formula is fine. For older children, soup or frozen fruit pops may be soothing.
- Encourage rest. Sleep can help your child fight the infection.
- Try a fever reducer. If your child has a fever, over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), may help.
- Skip the cold medicines.Over-the-counter cold preparations aren’t recommended for children younger than age 2. Plus nonprescription cough medicines don’t help croup.
Things to watch out for
Croup is usually treated at home. Contact Emergency department immediately if the child’s symptoms are severe and they are finding it difficult to breathe.