Croup is a viral infection of the vocal cords, voice box (larynx), and windpipe (trachea).
There is a distinctive tight low-pitched barking cough with hoarseness due to swelling of the vocal cords.. A harsh, raspy vibrating sound (stridor) is heard when your child breathes in, usually only with crying or coughing. Symptoms usually last 5 to 6 days and generally get worse at night. The viruses that cause croup are very contagious until the fever is gone or until 3 days into the illness. Recommendations include:
Warm, moist air seems to relax the vocal cords. If your child develops stridor or tight breathing, steam up the bathroom and take him/her into the humidified bathroom for at least 10 minutes. Allay fears by cuddling, as stress can exacerbate symptoms. Use a cool mist humidifier, running 24hours/day during this illness.
Meds are less helpful than either mist or warm fluids. Encourage fluids, such as warm apple juice or herbal tea. You may try an expectorant as needed for a persistent cough, and older children can take cough drops as needed. You may treat fever< 100.5 with Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin/Advil (ibuprofen) as needed.
Call immediately if:
- breathing becomes difficult (when your child is not coughing)
- your child develops drooling, spitting, or great difficulty swallowing
- you note retractions (tugging-in) between the ribs
- warm air fails to clear up stridor in 20 minutes or your child becomes very sick
Pediatric Specialists of Plano