Croup. It's right up there with RSV and hand, foot, and mouth disease in its ability to strike fear in the hearts of new moms and dads surviving on scant hours of sleep and strong coffee - TwinGo
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It’s frightening every time you hear it: that harsh, raspy cough that sounds like a seal barking. Chances are it’s croup— a common infection that’s usually nothing to worry about, but could be serious if you don’t know the warning signs. Here, find out what causes croup, the signs you should look for, and how you can help your little one feel better.
What is croup?
Croup is an infection of the upper airways that causes swelling of the larynx and trachea. That swelling causes an airway obstruction, which makes it difficult for air to go in and out and results in hoarseness and the signature barking cough.
Every year, about 6 in 100 children under…
It’s frightening every time you hear it: that harsh, raspy cough that sounds like a seal barking. Chances are it’s croup— a common infection that’s usually nothing to worry about, but could be serious if you don’t know the warning signs.
Croup is most common in children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years, although a child can get croup at any age. The illness shows up most frequently in the colder months – between October and March. Most cases of croup today are not serious, but a severe case can require hospitalization.
If your baby has croup, you’ll know. The barking cough is easy to recognise. Although it’s frightening to hear your baby cough like this, in most cases, it sounds worse than it is.
In the past, parents may have been advised to try steam treatment in the bathroom. Though some parents may find that this helps improve breathing, there are no studies to prove that inhaling steam in a bathroom is effective. There are also no studies to prove that breathing in moist, cool night airs helps improve breathing.
Most cases of croup are caused by viruses, usually parainfluenza virus and sometimes adenovirus or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Viral croup is most common — and symptoms are most severe — in children 6 months to 3 years old, but can affect older kids too. Some children are more prone to developing croup when they get a viral upper respiratory infection.
Croup is typically much worse at night. It often lasts 5 or 6 nights. The first night or two are most often the worst. Rarely, croup can last for weeks. Talk to your child's doctor if croup lasts longer than a week or comes back often.
What should you do when your baby or toddler suddenly wakes up in the night gasping for breath and barking like a seal? Don't panic. Your little one probably has croup — a treatable, common childhood illness.
The cough and other symptoms of croup are the result of inflammation around the vocal cords (larynx), windpipe (trachea) and bronchial tubes (bronchi). When a cough forces air through this narrowed passage, the swollen vocal cords produce a noise similar to a seal barking. Likewise, taking a breath often produces a high-pitched whistling sound (stridor).
The breathing difficulties seen in croup can progress rapidly, turning into a life-threatening emergency. On rare occasions, a child must be rushed by ambulance into the emergency room because of serious breathing problems. Signs of serious trouble include swallowing difficulty, nonstop drooling, bluish discoloration of the skin or lips, sucking in of the chest, and rapid breathing (over 80 breaths per minute).
As with coughs, colds, flu, and other similar viral infections, there is a chance that you can pass on the infection. In particular, if you are in close contact with others. Croup often occurs in outbreaks or epidemics in the winter.
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