Croup is a viral infection that causes swelling of the upper airway and vocal cords.  It can be preceded by a day or two of cold symptoms or come on suddenly in the middle of the night.

Symptoms may include:

  • A “seal-bark” cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • A high pitched whistling sound when breathing in, called “stridor”
  • Difficulty breathing

If your child wakes up in the middle of the night with croup:

  • Try stepping out into the cool night air or into a bathroom with the shower running and door closed.  The cool misty air will often improve the symptoms.
  • Keep your child calm; agitation worsens the symptoms.

Call immediately if:

  • Your child is not improved within 15 minutes of trying the above measures
  • Your child is having trouble breathing
  • Your child is drooling or having trouble swallowing
  • Your child is difficult to arouse or not responsive

 Return to the Childhood Illness Guide.