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How to Treat Croup

Updated on March 10, 2014

What is Croup?

Everyone has heard the term “croup”, but what is it? Croup is defined as the inflammation of upper airways. The upper airways involve the larynx (voice box) and the trachea (wind pipe). It can cause some serious looking symptoms. As a mother myself I was extremely scared during this time. My twin toddlers had croup, which is why I wanted to bring other mothers useful information about this subject. I hope this hub helps you on your venture in finding the cause and treatment of croup.

What causes croup?

In all most all cases, the croup is typically caused by a virus called parainfluenza. At certain times it is caused by the adenovirus or even respiratory syncytial virus, which is called RSV in short. Unfortunately, children from 6 months up to 3 years of age are far more susceptible to this illness. It is highly contagious, this means that the older children and adults. On a brighter note, most cases are mild despite the desperation you may feel when hearing the hoarseness and barking cough of your child. At times it may seem like they are having a hard time to breathe. Even though most cases are mild, TAKE YOUR CHILD TO THE DOCTOR!

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What are the symptoms of croup?

In the beginning, your child may display symptoms that resemble an average cold. For example; stuffy and runny nose. Some children may even run a low-grade fever at first. When the upper airway begins to inflame even more or swell, he or she may have a raspy or hoarse voice. Then the barking cough sets in. Barking cough is a loud cough that almost sounds like a seal; dry and irritating.

When the symptoms worsen, the child may start to wheeze or have a high-pitched squeak while they try to breathe. This is extremely scary for their parent. (I panicked; I cannot lie.) Symptoms worsen (and this is completely TRUE!) at nighttime during bedtime hours. Depending on the diagnosis from their pediatrician, the treatment for croup can be administered at home with typical remedies.

What is the treatment for croup?

The treatment for croup is typically simple, but you will need to be consistent to promote comfort for your child. Cold air will help keep the swelling to a minimum. Ibuprofen or Tylenol is also suggested; although, in my person experience Ibuprofen works best and lasts A LOT longer. Another item that you will is a cool mist humidifier. If you do not have one, steam up the bathroom and crack the window. Sit as close to the window as possible.

The air (if it is cool outside) will cook the steam and will work just fine. (I used a regular humidifier through the day, which helped tremendously! I also did the steaming of the bathroom and cracking the window method.) It is important to hydrate the airways to keep coughing to a minimum. Also, make them drink lots of water, not just for hydration, but to allow hydration inside the throat. As soon as my baby boys woke up I gave them water down tea. Cold, watered- down tea seemed to work better than just plain water. I am sure Pedialyte will work just as good. It will take 3-5 days for the worst part of it to be over. It does take about 10 days for it to completely subside.

When should a doctor be contacted?

Instantly call the doctor if your son or daughter has:

  • A hard time breathing (rapid or labored breathing)
  • squeaking noise or high pitched noise when breathing
  • bluish color in the lips (this is due to lack of oxygen and shows that they are in immediate danger)
  • difficulty swallowing and / or drooling
  • overall fatigue
  • dehydration (sticky or dry mouth, little or no tears, sunken in eyes, extreme thirst, little or no urine, dark-yellow urine)
  • looks overall sickly

Personal Experience

My twin toddlers are just now getting over the croup. It was a very scary time for me. They had a lot of the symptoms. I took them to their doctor and all of the things he told me for the treatment of croup was the same as if they had a bad cold. Keep an eye on your kid. It will be over as fast as it began. It seems worse because your feeling scared and helpless since it is your child.


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    • graveyard-rose profile image

      Heather Marie 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you. I agree. Croup is very scary and I settled my nerves by reading more into it. :) Thank you for the comment.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 4 years ago from Hawaii

      This looks like an article that parents should check out.