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
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