Understanding Croup

By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor

In this article:

  • Knowing the basics
  • Identifying the symptoms
  • Determining the causes
  • Reducing the risk factors
  • Understanding the treatment
  • Treating the condition through lifestyle changes & home remedies

Knowing the basics

What is croup?

Croup is a respiratory infection that mainly affects children. The disease can cause airway obstruction and “barking” cough. When infected, the larynx and trachea become irritated and swollen. Experiencing this infection for a long time can cause pneumonia or serious lung infections.

Identifying the symptoms

What are the signs & symptoms?

Croup can show many signs and symptoms in which severe cough is the first and most obvious. Some other symptoms may include a sore throat, runny nose or fever.

In addition, children may have a hoarse voice, a dry cough, and rapid breathing. Kids often make a high-pitched or squeaking noise while breathing in, which is called stridor. Symptoms of croup are often worse at night or when a child lies down.

There may be other symptoms that could show when experiencing this infection. Please consult a doctor if your child experiences any abnormalities. 

When to see a doctor

Visit a doctor if your child has the following signs and symptoms:

  • A rasping sound when breathing in
  • Drooling, difficulty swallowing
  • Anxiety, irritability, fatigue
  • Rapid and difficulty breathing
  • Pale or bluish color around the mouth due to lack of oxygen

Determining the causes

What causes it?

Generally, viruses that cause infections such as parainfluenza RSV, measles, adenovirus, and flu can all cause croup. Children may become infected through breathing or physical contact from toys that carry viruses. Allergy, irritant gas inhalation or gastric acid reflux can also cause this disease.

Reducing the risk factors

Who may experience it?

It usually occurs in children from 6 months to 3 years old. In many cases, however, either 3-month-old infants or teenagers may experience croup. 

What factors increase the risk of getting this infection?

Children who are at a greater risk are:

  • 6 months to 3 years old. Most cases occur between the ages of 18 and 24 months.
  • Those who have weak immune systems or whose parents have asthma, which increases the risk of croup.

Understanding the treatment

The information provided herein is not a substitute for any medical advice. Therefore, ALWAYS consult a doctor for more information.

How is it diagnosed?

To diagnose croup, the doctor will perform a physical examination and monitor the child’s breathing. In addition, X-rays may be used to check for inflammation in the neck and foreign body (if any) or sign of pus or blood in the airways. Children with suspected bacterial infection would undergo blood tests.

How is croup treated?

Most cases can be treated at home. Children need to be given plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. If the symptoms do not improve after 3 to 5 days, the doctor may prescribe oral medication (or injection, spray) to reduce inflammation of the trachea. Do not take the medication without a doctor’s prescription.

Treating the condition through lifestyle changes & home remedies

Which living habits help reduce the progression of croup?

For prevention, you should:

  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid close contact with people who have a respiratory infection.
  • Take medication as prescribed by the doctor.

If you are concerned about any red flags with your health, please consult a doctor for advice on the best treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: October 31, 2019 | Last Modified: October 31, 2019

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