General Overview of Croup

Croup is an infection that affects the upper airway thus obstructing proper breathing. This infection occurs mainly in small children and can be managed at home if is not severe. Croup generally occurs when air is forced in the narrow passage while coughing. What follows is the swelling of the vocal cords, causing one to produce a barking sound.

What Are the Symptoms of Croup?

Children have a smaller respiratory system, making them more susceptible to croup. Let’s look at some of the common symptoms you could look out for :

  •         A hoarse voice
  •         Cough that sounds like a bark
  •         Heavy, noisy breathing
  •         Runny nose
  •         Sneezing
  •         Fever 
  •         Bluish skin coloring around the mouth and nose
  •         Difficulties when swallowing
  •         High pitched coughing
  •         Sore throat
  •         Rash
  •         Dehydration
  •         Swollen lymph nodes
  •         Excess drooling

Causes of Croup

Croup comes about in two ways: 

  •  Viral croup – This is caused by a virus that usually harms the trachea and the voice box. It may start as a cold but in due time, the baby develops a barking cough. The baby may also experience wheezing or a high pitch in the lower airways when breathing.
  • Spasmodic croup – This type of croup comes about without a warning. What’s worse is that this is the kind of illness that especially shows up at night. The baby suddenly wakes up, gasping for air with a hoarse sound. A possible cause  is reflux in the stomach or an allergy. What would happen in such a case is that the contents in the stomach moves into the esophagus.
  • Infected respiratory system – This is caused by allergens and pollutants available in the air, on surfaces in your house and on toys. This is bound to happen, especially in contaminated households that host a young, adventurous child. 

 How to Diagnose Croup

Take your baby to the doctor if your baby develops symptoms such as fever and difficulty breathing. Typically, it can be diagnosed by observing how he breathes and questions on the other symptoms. The doctor may also listen to the baby’s chest using a stethoscope as well as examine his/her throat. Other times, x rays and other blood tests can be used to rule out any other ailments.

 Remedies of Treating Croup

Mostly, croup symptoms can be managed at home. This is because there is no ‘antiviral’ medications and it has to wear off on its own. The experience may be frightening especially if your baby ends up in hospital. However, let this not discourage you from giving him your best while at home:

  • Comfort the baby and keep him calm because agitation and crying may obstruct the airway.
  • Sing soothing songs to the baby to calm him
  • The doctor may prescribe some steroids to minimize inflammation if symptoms persist.
  • Try and provide fluids such as milk or water.
  • Use a fever reliever such as paracetamol, Tylenol and others with your doctor’s prescription
  • Encourage the baby to sleep as this may assist to fight off the infection
  • Hold the baby is  comforting position to help him breath easily


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: healthline, webmd, mayoclinic

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