Using techniques to help your child
control symptoms of
croup can help prevent the need to see a doctor at a
clinic or emergency room. These techniques focus on keeping your child's airway
open to make breathing easier.
Croup is a disease that
causes swelling and narrowing in a child's voice box (larynx), windpipe
(trachea), and breathing (bronchial) tubes that lead to the lungs. A child
infected with croup may at first seem to have a common upper
respiratory infection (URI), such as a cold. The first
symptoms of a
URI, such as runny nose and congestion, usually last
about 1 or 2 days. Croup symptoms, such as a barking cough, usually follow and
last 2 to 5 more days.
An episode, or attack, of croup often
occurs at night, with symptoms improving during the day. Because the coughing
can occur suddenly and sound severe, the attacks can frighten both you and your
child. But the condition usually is less serious than it appears or sounds.
Usually, the symptoms gradually become less severe each night.
A croup attack usually occurs during the
Although symptoms can occur at any time, they
are most likely to occur or be worse at night.
Continue to Why?
Managing your child's attacks of croup can help prevent symptoms from
becoming so severe that you need to visit a doctor in a clinic or emergency
Helping my child manage an attack of croup can help
prevent coughing and troubled breathing from becoming severe.
Managing symptoms of a croup attack can help
prevent symptoms from becoming so severe that you need to take your child to a
clinic or emergency room.
Continue to How?
croup attack usually can be managed at home. To help manage your child's
episode of croup:
If symptoms improve with these methods, put your child back
in bed with the humidifier blowing nearby. Do not smoke, especially in the
house. If the episode occurs during the middle of the night, it is a good idea
to sleep in or near your child's room until morning.
important to keep your child well hydrated. Offer water, noncaffeinated drinks,
flavored ice treats (such as Popsicles), or crushed ice drinks several times
Your child may have recurrent attacks throughout the
night. As long as symptoms improve with these methods, even briefly, your child
should gradually feel better and you likely will not need immediate medical
But if at any time your child has
severe difficulty breathing, call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
Symptoms of croup often sound worse than they
Croup often causes a harsh, barking cough and
rattling sounds when breathing in. These symptoms can sound more serious than
they really are.
You can help manage symptoms of a croup episode by
encouraging your child to move around and be physically active.
Croup symptoms are best managed by trying to
keep your child calm. Coughing and breathing problems, although not serious,
can upset and frighten a child. Crying and anxiety can make inflammation and
narrowing of the airway worse, which also makes symptoms worse.
Continue to Where?
If your child's symptoms do
not improve after about 30 minutes, call or visit your doctor. If the episode
is very severe or occurs in the middle of the night, consider taking your child
to the emergency room.
Return to topic:
May 29, 2012
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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