Croup is marked by a loud barking cough symptom. And its most common cause for inflammation is a viral infection. However, other situations can be a causal trigger, like:
Viral croup usually barks up during winter through early spring, and lasts less than a week.
Other symptoms beyond the telltale barking cough of croup include:
- labored breathing
- runny, stuffy nose
- common cold symptoms
- high pitched breathing noise
Croup symptoms often worsen at night or when a child is upset and crying
Some children are more prone to croup, and may display symptoms of its loud barking cough multiple times. Especially if they were born prematurely, have a breathing problems or lung disease, such as asthma.
Most cases of croup are mild and can be treated at home. Basic treatment recommendation is plenty of rest and plenty of fluids.
Cough medicines are not recommended. Children’s acetaminophen for chest and fever discomfort is okay.
During a croupy cough episode cold or moist air seems to help children breathe easier. Ways to deliver this form of treatment are:
- cool air vaporizer
- go outside into cool air
- run hot shower with the bathroom door closed
- driving car with the windows down to bring in cool air
- breathe through a warm, wet washcloth over nose & mouth
Sometimes, cool or misty air for a few minutes can help shrink or break-up the swollen tissue lining the airway.
If your child’s loud barking croup symptoms are severe or home treatment appears to fail, pay your health care professional a visit. A doctor can prescribe medications to help reduce the upper airway swelling, for example:
- aerosolized racemic epinephrine
- inhaled or injected corticosteroids
- oral corticosteroids ~ dexamethasone, prednisone
Contact your child’s health care professional ASAP if you notice:
- difficulty breathing
- seems to feel worse
- drooling, trouble swallowing
- high pitch sound when breathing in
- very cranky, irritable, uncomfortable
- breathing doesn’t sound better after cold, mist air treatment
- lips, skin around the nose, mouth or fingernails are bluish or dark
The vast majority of croup sufferers will recover with home treatment. Rarely, pneumonia or other non health promoting complications may develop.