It doesn’t matter what your child is sick with, you want to do everything you can to help them feel better. Unfortunately there are a lot of childhood illnesses that you can’t really do much for because they are viruses and viruses just have to run their course. When it comes to croup, this is the case, but knowing what croup is and what you can do to help your child can make it a little easier to handle.
What is croup?
Croup is an illness that causes swelling and irritation in the upper airway, more specifically in the larynx (voice box) and the trachea (windpipe). Kids with croup often have a hoarse voice and a barky cough. It is more common in children between 6 months of age and 3 years of age and generally occurs more frequently in the winter months as croup is caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold. The good news is that croup is generally mild and can be treated at home.
What are the signs and symptoms of croup?
Because croup is caused by the same viruses that cause colds, the first signs and symptoms of croup are generally cold symptoms such as cough, runny nose, or a mild fever. As it progresses and the airway becomes swollen and constricted the cough will become harsh and barky and your child may have a hoarse voice. It is generally worse at night when the child is laying down or when they are upset and crying.
If the airway continues to swell your child may have trouble breathing. You may notice a squeaking or high-pitched sound when your child is breathing in. This is called stridor and it is life threatening. At this point your need to take your child to the nearest emergency room for treatment.
How do I treat croup?
It may sound scary because you are dealing with the airway, but croup can easily be treated at home as long as it is mild.
Breathing cool moist air makes it easier for your child to breath. Because of that, you may want to turn your thermostat down to about 70 degree and get a cool mist humidifier for their bedroom. You can even take your child outside in cooler weather to help ease the symptoms. Running a hot shower and letting the steam fill the bathroom while the child sits in there with an adult is another way to help ease a coughing fit.
Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help with fever and pain. Ibuprofen can also help decrease the swelling somewhat. Sometimes their doctor will also put them on steroids or breathing treatments to help with the swelling.
In more severe cases your child may have to be admitted to the hospital for treatment and remain there until they can breath easier. If at any time you are concerned about your child’s breathing, take them to the emergency room or doctor’s office.
Has your child ever had croup? Were you able to treat it at home or did your child have to be admitted to the hospital?