Skip to Content

Croup In Adults


Croup is a respiratory infection. It causes your throat and upper airways of the lungs to swell and narrow. It is also called laryngotracheobronchitis. Croup is more common in children, but adults can also get it.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • The skin around your mouth or fingertips turns blue.
  • You have severe difficulty breathing.
  • You cannot swallow your spit and begin to drool.
  • You are severely fatigued.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms do not get better or get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • A cough suppressant is cough medicine that decreases your urge to cough. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you take a cough suppressant at night so you can rest.
  • Steroids help decrease inflammation and open your airway.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Rest and keep calm as much as possible. The stress hormones can make your cough worse.
  • Sit in a steam-filled bathroom. Turn the shower on. Close the door and sit in the bathroom for about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not get into the shower.
  • Use a vaporizer. Use a vaporizer next to your bed to help decrease your cough at night.
  • Drink warm liquids. Warm liquids will soothe your throat and help with your cough.

Prevent the spread of croup:

  • Wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs to others. Use soap and water. Use gel hand cleaner when soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, cough, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Sneeze and cough into a tissue or the bend of your arm. If you use a tissue, throw it away immediately and wash your hands.
  • Do not share cups, silverware, or dishes with others.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

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