Understanding Croup

Parents have lots of questions and fears about croup. Is it a serious disease? How can you tell for sure if your baby has croup? Can adults catch croup?

What is croup?

Croup is a common childhood condition caused by inflammation, or swelling, around the vocal chords.

The major sign of croup is a barking cough, often with noisy wheezing breathing or a whistling sound called “stridor.”. Play the sound file below to hear a recording of croup.

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Croup can also show up with fever. Your child might have cold-like symptoms first, but croup can also start in the middle of the night with no prior warning.

A sudden spell of croup in the middle of the night can be very scary for parents. What should you do? Click To Tweet

Pick up your child and try to calm him or her. Getting agitated makes the symptoms worse. Take Baby into a bathroom, close the door, and turn on the shower. Moist air can help.

If these steps don’t help, or if your child has trouble breathing, call your pediatrician immediately.

Croup facts

It is most common among young children, but adults can also get croup. Croup can arise from RSV or the common cold. Since it is caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t help. While a variety of medications have been used over the years, the most common treatment now is steroids.

Most cases of croup clear up on their own within a few days. Like colds, they make babies and parents alike very unhappy, but home treatment is usually all you need.

Complications can include pneumonia and other serious problems, so be sure to get medical care if your child has trouble breathing or swallowing, or if he or she doesn’t get better within a few days.

Contact Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics if you’re concerned about croup, or any health issue for your child. Our award-winning MANA doctors have several convenient locations.