Childhood diseases – Croup


Croup is a viral infection of the upper airways affecting mainly the throat and surrounding area. Children with croup will develop symptoms quickly characterised by a barking cough.

Croup typically occurs in children under five years-old and the majority of cases clear up after one or two days. In very rare situations. croup can be an indication of conditions such as diphtheria (a bacterial infection of the throat of which babies in the UK are immunised against).

Croup is caught by breathing in airborne particles from the cough or sneeze from an infected person or from direct contact. Once on the skin, the virus can be passed into the mucous of the eyes and nose. A child that has had croup before will tend to develop the symptoms again when suffering with a common cold. Symptoms usually reduce in severity after the age of four or five.

Symptoms of croup
– A barking cough (sounds rough and dry).
– Hoarse throat.
– Heavy noisy breaths.
– Worse at night after lying down for a few hours.
– High temperature.

Treatment for croup
Croup is a viral infection and as such can’t be treated by antibiotics. Symptoms will usually pass after a few days but parents should be wary of anything obstructing the child’s airway.

Encourage your child to drink fluids and only feed them small meals to prevent them vomiting from the coughing action. Steam can often open up the airways allowing your child to breathe more easily. Try to keep your child calm when they have a coughing fit. If your child’s mouth, nose or nails turn blue and they struggle to breathe seek medical attention immediately.

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