Facebook Pixel

Croup: Symptoms and Treatment

By HERWriter
Rate This
Croup related image Photo: Getty Images

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the croup is breathing difficulty accompanied by a barking cough. Also, the NIH states ʺcroup, which is swelling around the vocal cords, is common in infants and children and can have a variety of causes.ʺ

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states ʺchildren are most likely to get croup between 3 months and 5 years of age.ʺ Croup is most common in the fall and winter months.

Croup is contagious and transferred from someone who is infected. The transfer of croup may occur from the hand or from tiny air droplets. The croup can last between three to seven days, and the worst at night time.

Adults are rarely infected with croup. However, if your child has viral croup, you may catch a cold.

There are two types of croup: viral and spasmodic. The most common type of croup is viral. The windpipe and voice box are infected with the viral croup.

Spasmodic croup is caused by allergies or reflux from the stomach. Spasmodic comes on very suddenly. You will not have a fever with spasmodic croup. Spasmodic croup may recur frequently.

According to the NIH and AAP websites, croup symptoms include:

• Mild cold symptoms
• Hoarse voice
• Low grade fever
• The Croup Cough
• Labored breathing
• Stridor (a harsh, crowing noise made during inspiration)

The croup cough is very distinct. Some medical experts refer to it as a "seal bark". The first one to two nights of the croup cough are severe. The cough can last up to one week. Contact your doctor, if the cough last more than one week.

The main danger of croup is stridor. In rare and severe cases of croup, the airway may swell and close, leaving the patient unable to breathe. If this occurs, you must go to the emergency room immediately.

According to the AAP, some cases of croup can be treated at home. The following treatment is recommended:

• A 15-20 minute bathroom steam
o Close the door to the bathroom
o Turn the shower on the hottest setting
o Allow the bathroom steam up
o Sit in the steamy bathroom for with 15 to 20 minutes
• Repeat if necessary
• A cold water vaporizer
• Humidifier

The majority of the time, bathroom steam will aid in the breathing. The AAP states, ʺIf it does not, take your child outdoors for a few minutes. Inhaling moist, cool night air may help open the air passages so that he can breathe more freely.ʺ

Additional viral croup treatment includes:

• A breathing treatment with epinephrine (adrenaline)
• A steroid prescription (inhaler, pill or injection)

Additional spasmodic croup treatment:

• Allergy medicine
• Reflux medicines

Cough syrups and antibiotics are not recommended for the treatment of croup.


Croup. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/pages/Croup.aspx.

Croup - PubMed Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001955/.

Croup Treatment. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from

Croup: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 12, 2011, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000959.htm.

Reviewed October 12, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


Get Email Updates

Related Topics

Croup Guide

HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!