Croup is most common in children between 6 months and 3 years of age. This is because young children have a smaller airway. Croup is also more common in the fall and early winter months.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Having a upper respiratory infection
- Poor immunization, especially against diphtheria
The first symptoms may be like a common cold. They often happen at night. Croup symptoms may be:
- Cough spasms
- A cough that sounds like a barking seal
- Problems breathing
- A harsh, high-pitched sound when your child breathes in, especially when crying or upset
- Drooling and problems swallowing
- Decreased alertness
- Bluish color of nails, lips, or around the mouth
The infection often goes away in a week. The goal of treatment is supportive care while the child heals. This may include things like fluids and warm, moist air to help with breathing.
Children with severe symptoms may need a breathing tube placed in the throat to help open the airway. This is not common.
Medicine may be needed to manage symptoms. The ones given depend on whether croup is mild or severe. They may be:
- Over-the-counter medicine to lower fever and ease discomfort
- Steroids to reduce swelling in the airways
- Epinephrine to ease swelling until steroids start to work
- Oxygen therapy for severe breathing problems
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation http://www.kidshealth.org
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
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What is croup and how is it treated? Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/pages/Croup-Treatment.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed January 9, 2020.