Croup is a common illness that affects the airways, making it hard for a child to breathe. It is characterized by the sudden onset of a seal-like barky cough that tends to be worse at night.  It is often accompanied by stridor, voice hoarseness, and respiratory distress in severe cases.  The symptoms are a result of upper airway inflammation caused by a viral infection (Para influenza virus types 1 or 3). 

It's most common in toddlers but can affect children between 6 months and 12 years of age. A loud barking cough can be scary for parents and children.  Most children with viral croup tend to have a low fever with the virus.

Symptoms to watch for in most cases of croup can be treated successfully at home.  Here are some helpful hints that you can take at home when your child has been diagnosed with croup: 

Mild Croup without difficulty breathing -Have child sit in a hot steam bathroom for 15-20 minutes, run a cool mist vaporizer or if cool outside have child breath in cool night air outside.

 Children with severe cases of croup, difficulty breathing with a loud stridor sound or wheezing noted with inspiration or exhalation or after barky cough need to be taken into the Emergency Room as soon as possible.

Croup usually lasts 3-7 days; typically worsens at night.  Maintain a calm reassuring manner with child.  Try an avoid situations that may provoke stress or crying, which can worsen respiratory distress.  Children may have repeated episodes of croup.  Antibiotics are not indicated for the treatment of croup.

By  M.Carlos FNP-C