Croup is a common childhood problem of the upper respiratory tract. Specifically, it is the infection of the upper respiratory tract that obstructs the breathing pathway leading to a characteristic barking cough.
Croup is medically known as acute laryngotracheitis or acute laryngotracheobronchitis. This indicates the infection is based on inflammation of the larynx and trachea, and sometimes extends to bronchi of the lungs. The characteristic croup cough is caused by swelling of the voice box, trachea, and bronchi. It also produces hoarseness in children.
Croup usually occurs in fall or winter. Babies and children under the age of three are more susceptible to catching croup. Croup is more common in boys than in girls.
Croup is caused by many viruses such as influenza viruses, and parainfluenza viruses, or any virus that infects the voice box, trachea, or bronchi.
Spasmodic croup is rare and usually worsens at night. Spasmodic croup is thought to be caused by allergies or reflux of stomach contents.
Croup has a characteristic barking cough as the most prominent symptom. When a child tries to breathe through a swollen larynx, trachea, or bronchi, a seal-like barking sound is produced. Breathing can also produce a high-pitched whistling sound.
Common symptoms of croup are:
- Hoarseness of voice
- Barking cough
- Noisy or labored breathing
- Rasping sound when breathing in
- Runny nose
- Flu-like symptoms that worsen at night
A diagnosis can be made by monitoring a child’s breathing. If the breathing is labored and a whistling sound is produced with a barking cough, worsening at night, this is characteristic of croup. If symptoms are not clear, a medical provider may order additional tests, such as X-ray, to rule out other illnesses.
Croup symptoms are generally mild and can be treated at home. The symptoms usually lessen within 48 hours. It is important to keep a child hydrated during this time. There are some over-the-counter medicines and syrups available to treat symptoms, depending on the child’s age. Treatment begins with comfort measures and medications are given based on the severity of symptoms.
If symptoms are more severe, a medical provider may prescribe steroids. These are referred to as glucocorticoids, and act by reducing inflammation of the respiratory pathway to help in breathing. Inhaled nebulizers may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation.
Croup prevention is focused on good hygiene. Wash your hands often before touching a child. Keep the child away from anyone who is sick, when possible. Encourage children to cough or sneeze in their elbow instead of their hands. Common childhood immunizations may also offer protection against croup.
In case of urgent medical care assistance, AfterOurs Urgent Care offers immediate telemedicine services, where medical providers are available to offer assistance. Anyone who experiences signs and symptoms requiring urgent medical attention can simply book their appointment with AfterOurs Urgent Care to directly talk to an expert. If your medical issue is not appropriate for telemedicine, we will let you know and refer you to an in-person facility.
When to visit a doctor:
If you have symptoms such as, fever or coughing, that do not resolve on their own, you should see a medical practitioner to rule out serious infection. This will help guide treatment and reduce the spread of the disease.
Treatment for croup is available at AfterOurs Urgent Care.
For more information on Croup, see the following website: