My first experience with croup was watching Anne of Green Gables, where Anne saves her best friend’s little sister from croup. Since then, my image of croup has not been a positive one. In fact, it scares me. And how could it not? The painfully hoarse cough, the looks at you like “please make it stop” all add to the fear of that long ago Anne of Green Gables movie. Do not rent this movie while nursing a croupy child back to health.
Croup has got to be one of the hardest illnesses to watch my children go through. Coughing so hard that they almost (or sometimes do) throw up. Sleepless nights. Periods of activity filled with coughing fits so hard it leaves them gasping for breath.
Croup is a viral infection that affects mainly children under 6 years old. They experience a seal like sounding barking cough, which then causes the vocal chords to swell. Croup typically starts when the child has a cold or allergies which later develop into a case of croup in which the vocal chords swell and the child experiences cold like symptoms. Sometimes croup can come on without warning and may not be associated with allergies or a cold. It can also be accompanied by fever. However, the cough will typically worsen significantly at night or when the child is laying down at nap time or while watching TV.
Croup typically lasts about five to six days with the second and third day often being the peak as far as symptoms go. The most important thing to monitor is a child’s stridor or the sounds that your child makes when they breath in. Children with croup will have a raspy, gasping sound when they breath. if they are up, able to play and still maintain a good appetite than they usually experience a more milder case. When the child refuses to eat, the gaspy, raspy breathing sounds increase, the child becomes lethargic, or in draws by pulling the neck, ribs, or or shoulders or can’t ‘catch their breath’ while breathing than they may have a more serious case of croup that may require emergency medical help.
Croups symptoms can be treated and often alleviated by doing a few simple things. Running a cool mist humidifier at night or in the rooms the child is playing in during the day is helpful in allowing the child to breath easier at night. The old wives tale notion of taking the child outside in the cold is also helpful. Often children breath easier outside in the cooler air. Having the child sit in the bathroom while a hot shower runs also helps as steam helps the cough.
If you need to take the child to the doctor, they may prescribe nebulizer treatments or steroidal treatments to help with breathing and inflammation. But you will want to avoid cough medications and over the counter cough syrups. Instead, use honey and lemon or over the counter honey cough syrups like Zarbee’s.
Croup can be serious, but can be made easier by following these few tips. If you have any questions or problems, please contact your medical care provider or seek emergency medical treatment immediately if the croup becomes life threatening. This article was not intended to diagnose or treat and is to be used for informational purposes only.
What is Croup? by Medicine Net http://www.medicinenet.com/croup/article.htm