Croup gets its name from the sound it makes. Typically, you hear a “croupy” cough that occurs suddenly overnight and sounds like a “barking” seal or a dog. This sound occurs because it affects the area around the vocal cords (“voice box”) and causes irritation resulting in a loud noise (“stridor”) upon inspiration (breathing in). Occasionally, your child could have trouble breathing. The cough is always worse at night, and usually the first night is the worst. It typically lasts about 3 nights with symptoms of laryngitis, runny nose, and low fever during the day. Croup is an infection typically caused by a virus. It can also be due to allergies.
Cool humidity helps the cough. Additionally, you may try a cool mist vaporizer, cold fluids to drink, and sitting in the bathroom with a hot shower running so that the room fills with steam. Cold air also shrinks swelling of the throat, so going outside in the cool air and leaving the bedroom window partially open, helps. Driving in the car on the way to the emergency room with the window down has cured many scary episodes of croup.
Occasionally, we may prescribe an additionally medicine to help decrease the amount of swelling in the throat. Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) helps the sore throat, and helps alleviate any pain or fever.
Reasons to call the doctor during regular hours:
- Your child is having a horrible night despite our recommended treatment
- Your child is coughing during the day because we know that coughing during the day only means worse coughing at night
- You have any additional concerns or worries
Reasons to call the doctor immediately:
- Your child is having stridor, difficulty swallowing, is drooling heavily, or cannot breathe