Croup is a respiratory problem that causes swelling and narrowing of the windpipe, voice box, and breathing tubes. It is very common among children. It usually occurs during fall and winter seasons. Barking cough is the most common symptom. This condition can also make breathing difficult.
A croup attack can be scary but it's generally not serious. A child can recover from this condition after a few days with rest and home care.
This respiratory ailment is often caused by the same virus that causes the common cold. Because of that, it's also contagious. The cold virus can spread from one person to another through close contacts or sneezing and coughing. Adults are not prone to this problem because their lungs and windpipes are more mature.
Preventive Measures for this disease include:
- frequent hand washing
- getting a flu shot every year
- limited close contact with people who are infected
So What are the Symptoms of Croup?
- Barking cough is brought about by the narrowed and stuffy airways.
- The cough caused by croup is so distinctive that it's easy to detect when you hear it. It's similar to the sound of a barking seal.
- Other symptoms include raspy or hoarse voice and crowing noise during breathing.
- These symptoms can get better during the day but usually aggravate at night. Most children who have croup attacks are awaken in the middle of the night with barking cough and breathing difficulty.
The illness and the symptoms often go away gradually within two to five days.
How is this Diagnosed?
The doctor will evaluate a child first by asking about the symptoms.
Then the doctor will listen to the barking cough to identify if it's croup. Because the sound is distinctive, most doctors are able to identify this condition even over the phone.
The doctor may also put a small clip called pulse oximeter on the child's earlobe, toe, or finger. This is done to check if there is enough oxygen to reach the blood.
How is it Treated?
Most parents find a croup attack terrifying, particularly due to the loud barking cough and difficult breathing. But home care can ease these symptoms:
- When your child has an attack, be sure to stay calm.
- Soothe your child. See to it that he/she doesn't cry as this will only make the swelling in the windpipe worse and breathing even more difficult.
- It will help to breathe in moist air. Fill the bathroom with steam using the hot water faucets. Sit inside the bathroom with the child for about 10 minutes. You may also use a humidifier for this purpose and hold your child directly onto it so that the vapor will blow into his/her face.
- Never smoke anywhere inside the house as this can worsen the child's condition.
- Make your child drink plenty of fluids. Don't give soda or other diuretics as these will only cause the child to excrete more urine than necessary.
- If symptoms persist and the breathing becomes even more difficult, bring your child to the doctor immediately.