WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Croup is an illness that causes swelling of the airway just below the vocal cords. It is common in infants and children from three months to three years old. Children usually outgrow croup by the age of five, but older children may get croup. It usually starts with a cold and sore throat. Your child may have a harsh, barking cough and have trouble breathing. He may have problems swallowing or not be able to sleep.
- Your child may suddenly have trouble breathing. This is called a croup attack. Croup attacks can happen anytime but usually occur during the cold weather season of late fall and winter. Attacks often happen at night and may last several days. Most children with croup can be treated at home. Some children with bad breathing problems may need to go into the hospital.
You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.
Croup with stridor can cause your child's airway to swell up to a point where your child will be unable to breathe. Your child's body temperature may increase to a dangerous level. Your child may become dehydrated (lose too much body fluid) if he does not eat or drink for a time. The risks of serious illness or death from croup are very small if you follow your caregiver's advice. Ask your caregiver any questions you have about your child's illness or care.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
- Blood gases: This test is also called an "ABG." Blood is taken from an artery usually in your child's wrist. It is tested for the amount of oxygen, acids, and carbon dioxide (deye-OKS-ide) in it. ABGs may be done if your child has trouble breathing or other problems caused by his illness.
- Blood tests: Your child may need blood taken for tests. The blood can be taken from a vein in your child's hand, arm, or the bend in his elbow. It is tested to show how his body is handling the illness. Your child may need to have blood drawn more than once.
- Breathing treatments: This is medicine to help open your child's airways so he can breathe easier. A hand-held device may be used to help your child breathe in the medicine. A caregiver will help your child with these treatments. At first your child may need them more often. As your child gets better, he may only need the treatments when he is having trouble breathing.
- Call button: You can use the call button when you or your child needs the caregiver. Breathing problems or being anxious are good reasons to call.
- Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your child's lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how his lungs and heart are handling the illness. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection, pneumonia (new-MOAN-yuh), or collapsed lungs.
- Emotional: You may stay with your child to give him comfort and support. Your child will feel safer in the hospital with you near him.
- Heart monitor: This is also called an EKG or an electrocardiogram (ee-lek-troh-KAHR-dee-oh-gram). It is a test to see how your child's heart is working. Sticky pads are placed on different parts of his body. Each pad has a wire that is hooked to a TV-type screen or to a small portable box (telemetry unit). This screen or box shows a tracing of each heartbeat. Caregivers watch this tracing to make sure your child's heart is doing well.
- IV: Taking in enough liquids is important to prevent dehydration (dee-heye-DRAY-shun). Dehydration is when there is not enough water in the body. An IV may be placed in your child's vein for giving extra liquids or medicine. This IV tube may be capped or connected to tubing and liquid.
- Nose or throat cultures: Your child may have his nose or throat swabbed with a cotton tip applicator. This will be sent to the lab for tests to learn what virus may be causing your child's illness and what medicines are best to treat it.
- Oxygen: Your child may be given extra oxygen through an oxygen hood, mist tent, face tent, or nasal prongs. Nasal prongs are short, thin tubes in the nose. How your child gets oxygen depends upon his age and how much oxygen he needs. Tell caregivers if the oxygen is drying out your child's nose or if the nasal prongs bother him. Do not take off the oxygen without asking a caregiver. If you do, your child's body may not have enough oxygen.
- Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter (ok-SIM-e-ter) is a machine that tells how much oxygen is in your child's blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on his ear, finger, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Caregivers use this machine to see if your child needs more oxygen.
- Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease swelling of the upper airways. There are many different reasons to take steroids (STER-oids). This medicine can help a lot but may also have side effects. Be sure you understand why your child needs steroids.
- Vital signs: This includes taking your child's temperature, blood pressure, pulse (counting his heartbeat), and respirations (counting his breaths). To take your child's blood pressure, a cuff is put on his arm and tightened. The cuff is attached to a machine which will give your child's blood pressure reading. Caregivers may listen to your child's heart and lungs by using a stethoscope (STETH-oh-skohp). Your child's vital signs may be taken so caregivers can see how he is doing.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.