Common Concerns: Croup

October 04, 2017 - by Rakesh Chopra MD - in Medical

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Croup: Does your child have a persistent, seal-like cough that seems to be worse in the evenings? Your child could have a respiratory virus called croup. Croup is a viral infection that often affects children under the age of 5. It is caused by common cold viruses and seen more often in the fall and winter months. Its characteristic cough is due to the upper airway swelling that occurs as a result from the virus.

What are symptoms of Croup?

Symptoms of croup may include fever, runny nose and a seal-like cough. The cough tends to be worse at night and more frequent with increased activity. Some children will develop a stridor, which is a high-pitched squeal when they breathe in because of the upper airway swelling that occurs with croup.

What can I do to help my child who has Croup?

Supportive care is typically all that is necessary for treatment:

  1. Cool-mist humidification
  2. Antipyretics like Tylenol and Motrin to reduce fever.
  3. Because cough is worse at night, parents are often advised to wrap their child in a blanket and take them outside in the cool air to ease symptoms.
  4. Oral hydration. As children with croup may not feel well enough to eat and drink regularly, parents should encourage plenty of fluids.
  5. Try elevating their heads with an extra pillow if the child is in their own bed. This elevation helps ease of breathing. If you have an infant in a crib, consider putting a wedge under their crib mattress.
  6. Nasal saline and suction can be beneficial for nasal discharge or congestion that can be present with croup.

When should I contact my Pediatrician?

Most cases of croup are self-limiting and do not need medical therapy to improve. However, there are cases that seem to be more severe, especially if your child has a history of frequent respiratory infections or other pulmonary disease. If your child does not seem to be improving or demonstrates signs of a stridor at rest, changes to their breathing and overall lethargy, you should see your pediatrician.

For more detailed information about croup, click here


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Rakesh Chopra MD


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