Know the basics
What is croup?
Croup (or laryngotracheobronchitis) is a respiratory infection that mainly affects children. This disease makes the larynx (voice box) and tracea (windpipe) going into the lungs become irritated and swollen, and causes severe cough. Long term croup can lead to pneumonia or serious bacterial infection in the lungs.
How common is croup?
Croup is common. Croup usually affects young children aged between six months and three years, with most cases occurring in one-year-olds. However, croup can sometimes develop in babies as young as three months, and older children up to 15 years of age. This condition can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of croup?
The common signs and symptoms of Croup are a cough that sounds like a seal barking, runny nose or fever. Other symptoms may include sore throat. Besides children may have a hoarse voice, fast breathing, and a high pitched windy sound while trying to breathe air into the lungs. These symptoms get worse when the child lies down. Often symptoms are worse at night.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Makes noisy, high-pitched breathing sounds (stridor) both when inhaling and exhaling;
- Begins drooling or has difficulty swallowing;
- Seems anxious, agitated or fatigued;
- Breathes at a faster rate than usual;
- Struggles to breathe;
- Develops blue or grayish skin around the nose, mouth or fingernails (cyanosis).
Know the causes
What causes croup?
Croup is most often caused by viruses, such as parainfluenza RSV, measles, adenovirus, and influenza. Your child may contract a virus by breathing infected respiratory droplets coughed or sneezed into the air. Virus particles in these droplets may also survive on toys and other surfaces. If your child touches a contaminated surface and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth, an infection may follow. Croup may also be caused by allergies, breathing in something that irritates your airway and acid reflux.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for croup?
There are many risk factors for Croup, such as:
- Most at risk of getting croup are children between 6 months and 3 years of age. The peak incidence of the condition is 18 to 24 months of age.
- Children with a weakened immune system or have parents with asthma, this increases the risk of bronchial laryngitis levels.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is croup diagnosed?
The doctor makes a diagnosis from a medical history and physical examination. X-rays of the child’s neck and lungs may be done. X-rays may show swelling of the neck and whether somethings is stuck or pus or blood in the airway is causing symptoms. Blood test may be done if the doctor suspects that the infection could be due to bacteria.
How is croup treated?
Most cases of croup can be safely managed at home. Your child should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. If your child’s symptoms persist beyond three to five days or worsen, your child’s doctor may prescribe a type of steroid (glucocorticoid) to reduce inflammation in the airway. If your child has breathing problems they may need hospital treatment, such as adrenaline and oxygen through a mask.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage croup?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Croup:
- Instructing your children wash their hand often, that is the best way to stop the spread of infections.
- Instructing your children take medicine as prescribed by the doctor.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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Croup. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000959.htm. Accessed July 13, 2016.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Download version.
Porter, R. S., Kaplan, J. L., Homeier, B. P., & Albert, R. K. (2009). The Merck manual home health handbook. Whitehouse Station, NJ, Merck Research Laboratories. Page 1787.
Tests and diagnosis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/croup/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20014673. Accessed July 13, 2016.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017