Croup is a prevalent respiratory ailment affecting young children. It typically occurs in the fall and winter. It is characterized by a barking, harsh cough.
The condition causes swelling and constriction in the voice box, windpipe and breathing tubes leading to the lungs. As an outcome, it causes difficulty breathing.
An episode of croup can be alarming, but it is rarely serious. Most children recover within several days with enough rest and proper care at home.
Causes of croup
Croup typically occurs a few days after a cold and brought about by the same viruses responsible for common cold. Remember that the condition is contagious and spreads to others via sneezing and coughing as well as via close contact. Regular hand washing and limiting exposure to others can prevent the spread of croup.
As children grow up and the lungs and windpipes develop, they are unlikely to develop croup. The flu shot that is given yearly can help the child fight some of the viruses that can lead to croup.
What are the indications?
- Bark-like cough
- Hoarse, raspy voice
- Crowing, harsh noise during inhalation. In some cases, the child breathes rapidly and needs to be seated to be able to easily breathe.
The indications of the disease often settle throughout the day and worsen at night. Oftentimes, children experiences episodes that wake them up in the middle of the night for several nights in a row. Unless the condition is severe, the child is usually active and alert. The temperature of the child is generally normal and only slightly elevated than normal. Croup eventually settles in 2-5 days.
Even if the coughing and difficulty breathing can be distressing, treatment at home can help ease the symptoms.
- Try to remain calm and soothe the child. If the child cries, it can worsen the swelling in the windpipe and makes it even harder to breathe.
- You can try steam by turning on a hot shower. Stay with the child while in the bathroom as he/she breathes in the moist air for 10-15 minutes.
- In some cases, breathing cool night air seems to help. Make sure that the child is dressed in warm clothes before staying outside for 10 minutes.
- If the symptoms improve with these measures, put the child back in bed. In case the symptoms occur in the middle of the night, it is best to sleep in or near the room of the child until morning.
- Keep the child properly hydrated. Provide water, flavored ice pops or crushed ice beverages several times every hour.
- Do not expose the child to those who smoke.
- Avoid giving the child any over-the-counter cold or cough medications.
In case the symptoms of the child do not settle after 30 minutes, get in touch with a doctor.