What is it?
Croup is a childhood condition that leads to swelling of the upper airways. It is caused by a virus. Children with croup typically have a distinctive barking cough, make a harsh sound when the breathe in and may have trouble to breath.
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.
- High temperature (fever).
Although croup symptoms usually only last for a few days, they can occasionally last up to two weeks.
What to expect?
Seek immediate medical help if:
- Your child has significant trouble breathing.
- Symptoms do not reduce when following the advice below.
- Your child is drowsy.
- Your child is agitated.
Things you can try at home that may help to reduce your child symptoms:
- Stay calm. Comfort or distract your child — cuddle, read a book or play a quiet game.
- 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. Stop immediately if your child does not seem to like the steam.
- 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.