Medical symptom checker - Barking cough - Overview

Medical symptom checker - Barking cough

Barking cough is a harsh , resonant or brassy cough. It is a pediatric disorder that present with varying degree of respiratory distress. It is part of the complex signs and symptoms of the croup syndrome. Croup syndrome is common in fall and mostly affect the boys. It is associated with edema of the larynx and surrounding tissue. As children ‘s airway diameter is smaller than adult, the edema will rapidly leads to life threatening condition. Croup syndrome may also recur.

In term of history and physical examination , the patient’s parents are often asked with questions such as when the barking cough happen and other signs and symptoms that may develop. Other samples of questions that may be asked includes :

Is there any episodes in the past of croup syndrome?

when did the child appear ill ?

Is any exposure to cold air improve child condition ?

Both epiglottitis and spasmodic croup occurs at the middle of the night. High fever of sudden onset is commonly associated with epiglottitis while spasmodic croup present with no fever. Acute laryngotracheobronchitis which is also one of the diagnosis of barking cough may present with upper respiratory tract infection.

The common medical causes of barking cough includes acute laryngotracheobronchitis, epiglottitis and spasmodic croup.

Acute laryngotracheobronchitis most commonly present in mid winter and fall and affect children between the ages of 9 months to 18 months . It is also known as viral croup. The children initially present with poor appetite , runny nose, low to moderate fever and cough which is infrequent .

Inspiratory stridor , hoarseness and barking cough may present as the infection precede to the laryngotracheal areas.

As the respiratory distress are getting worst, patient may suffer from shallow respiration, tachycardia and intercostal and substernal retraction. Patient later become irritable, pale, restless and cyanotic. Sleeping in dry room is not recommended as it may worsen the condition.

Barking cough , may also be associated with epiglottitis. It is a life threatening condition. However the incidence of it has been decreasing with the introduction of the influenza vaccine. It is a true medical emergency. It happens at the middle of the night or nocturnally and present with high fever and barking cough. The child appears restlessness, extremely ill, dyspnoea, panicky, hoarseness and dysphagic.

The condition will get worsen and the child may develop severe respiratory distress such as cyanosis, tachycardia, intercostal and sternal retraction and nasal flaring.As epiglottitis edema increase, the child will struggles to breath.

Spasmodic croup is one of the diagnosis of the barking cough . It will awakens the child as it is usually occurs during the sleeps and it is on acute condition. Child appears to be dyspnoeic, restlessness and hoarse with no fever. The child may later exhibit respiratory distress signs such as tachycardia, nasal flaring, frantic, anxious appearance, cyanosis, intercostal and sternal retraction. Symptoms will settle within few hours and attack tend to recur.

Special consideration include, performing chest x ray to rule out any lower respiratory tract infection. If the respiratory distress is not severe , lateral neck x ray is performed to rule out epiglottal edema and remember to examine the throats of children unless the intubation equipment present.

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