WHAT IS IT?
Croup, which is most common in young children, is an infection of the upper airway that obstructs breathing and produces a barking cough. It’s typically caused by a virus.
Inflammation around the vocal cords, windpipe and bronchial tubes is what produces the respiratory symptoms. When a cough forces air through this narrowed passage, the swollen vocal cords produce a noise similar to that of a seal barking. Likewise, taking a breath may produce a high-pitched whistling sound (stridor). Other signs may include fever and a hoarse voice.
Most cases of croup are mild and improve within a couple of days. In a small percentage of cases, the airway swells enough to interfere with breathing.
- Keep your child calm. Because crying and agitation worsen airway obstruction, try to comfort your child. Hold your child, sing lullabies or read quiet stories. Offer a favorite blanket or toy.
- Moisten the air. Humid air may help a child’s breathing. You can use a humidifier or sit with your child in a bathroom filled with steam generated by running hot water from the shower.
- Keep your child upright. Sitting upright makes breathing easier. Hold your child on your lap, or place your child in a favorite chair.
- 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 helps your child fight the infection.
- Use an over-the-counter pain reliever. If your child has a fever, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help.
Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”.