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Croup Treatments


Treatment aims to keep the airway open while the infection resolves on its own in 5-7 days. Severe symptoms usually resolve in 3-4 days.

Therapies include:

Self-care and Humidification

  • Try to keep your child calm and quiet. Crying can make the symptoms worse.
  • Moist air will help to keep the airways open. Take the child into the bathroom and close the door. Let the hot water run in the shower and fill the room with moisture. Sit with the child in the moist air for 15-20 minutes. Never leave a child unattended with hot water running or a tub of water nearby.
  • Repeat the bathroom steam treatments as needed. Or try running a warm- or cold-water humidifier in your child's room.
  • If the moist-air treatments do not help breathing or your child's condition is getting worse, seek medical care.
  • Call the doctor or emergency medical services (911). Do not hesitate to call even if the attack occurs during the night.


The doctor may prescribe steroids to reduce swelling in the airways as this treatment has been shown to benefit croup and may keep a child from becoming sick enough to need hospitalization. Breathing treatments with a medicine called racemic epinephrine may provide temporary help until steroid medications (usually dexamethasone) start to work. Since most croup is caused by a viral infection, antibiotics are not indicated unless there is some other accompanying problem like an ear infection or pneumonia .

Hospital Care

  • A child with serious croup may be placed in a croup tent. Cool, moist air is delivered inside this plastic tent.
  • Medications may be given to treat inflammation and respiratory distress.
  • If the child continues to get worse, a breathing tube may be inserted in the throat to help keep the airway open.
  • Fluids can be given through a vein if necessary.
  • The child's oxygen level and heart rhythm are monitored.
  • In severe cases, a surgical procedure called a tracheostomy can be performed to keep the airway open.

If your child is diagnosed with croup, follow your doctor's instructions .

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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