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Croup is an infection that causes the throat and upper airways of the lungs to swell and narrow. It is also called laryngotracheobronchitis. Croup makes it harder for your child to breath. This infection is common in infants and children from 3 months to 3 years of age. Your child may get croup more than once.



  • Medicines may be prescribed to reduce swelling, pain, or fever. Acetaminophen may also decrease pain and a fever, and is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to give it to your child. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care for your child:

  • Have your child breathe moist air. Warm, moist air may help your child breathe easier. If your child has symptoms of croup, take him into the bathroom, close the bathroom door, and turn on a hot shower. Do not put your child under the shower. Sit with your child in the warm, moist air for 15 to 20 minutes. If it is cool outside, take your clothed child outside in the cool, moist air for 5 minutes.
  • Comfort your child. Keep him warm and calm. Crying can make his cough worse and breathing more difficult. Have your child rest as much as possible.
  • Give your child liquids as directed. Offer your child small amounts of room temperature liquids every hour. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much to give your child.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier in your child's room. This may also make it easier for your child to breathe and help decrease his cough.
  • Do not let others smoke around your child. Smoke can make your child's breathing and coughing worse.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has no tears when he cries.
  • Your child is dizzy or sleeping more than what is normal for him.
  • Your child has wrinkled skin, cracked lips, or a dry mouth.
  • The soft spot on the top of your child's head is sunken in.
  • Your child urinates less than what is normal for him.
  • Your child does not get better after he sits in a steamy bathroom or outside in cool, moist air for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Your child's cough does not go away.
  • You have any questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • The skin between your child's ribs or around his neck goes in with every breath.
  • Your child's lips or fingernails turn blue, gray, or white.
  • Your child is not able to talk or cry normally.
  • Your child's breathing, wheezing, or coughing gets worse, even after he takes medicine.
  • Your child faints.
  • Your child drools or has trouble swallowing his saliva.

Learn more about Croup (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.