A constant, loud cough coming from your child can be concerning. One particular type of cough called croup can seem serious. Fortunately, most children don't suffer serious consequences and need no special treatment for it. A few might have more serious complications, however. Therefore, parents need to know the signs of croup and when to seek treatment.
Keep reading to learn more about this common pediatric health problem and how pediatricians treat it.
What Is Croup?
Croup is a condition where the airways swell up and cause a very harsh cough. Croup can affect the entire airway, including around the larynx. It can be chronic, and many children have more than one incidence in their lifetime.
What Causes Croup?
Croup generally starts with a respiratory virus like the cold and flu. These viruses can cause inflammation in the airways. While croup by itself is not contagious, the viruses that typically cause it are. Very rarely, smoke, dust, and allergens can also cause croup.
Who Is Most Vulnerable to Croup?
Very young children are the most vulnerable due to their smaller airways. Most children will outgrow the possibility of croup as their lungs mature. Adults can also get croup, but their cases are not usually serious and often don't show the same symptoms as pediatric croup.
What Are Croup Symptoms?
The most common croup symptom is a loud, barking cough. This cough is different than the "whoop" cough of the more serious whooping cough disease. Croup can cause a hoarse voice, stridor, and feelings of tiredness. Most children recover within a few days.
Can Home Treatments Help Croup?
Home treatments may help if the cause is a known virus like a cold. With your pediatrician's guidance, you can try children's over-the-counter medications. Humidifiers and cool air may also help your child breathe easier. Plenty of rest and fluids are also a good idea. Many children recover from croup quickly once the cause disappears.
When Is Croup Serious?
Signs of serious croup problems include paleness, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Another serious sign is if your child can't seem to swallow or drools more than usual. Children who are excessively tired or difficult to wake up need immediate medical attention.
If this is your first experience with croup, visit a pediatrician to rule out other issues. The doctor will check the airways and possibly order an x-ray to get a better view of the lungs' interior. Severe cases may need hospitalization, especially if other treatments are ineffective. For more information about croup or how to reduce your child's chance of serious problems, talk to your pediatrician.