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Croup In Children



is an infection that causes the throat and upper airways of the lungs to swell and narrow. It is also called laryngotracheobronchitis and is commonly caused by a virus. Croup makes it harder for your child to breathe. This infection is common in children 5 years old or younger , but our child can get croup at any age. Your child may get croup more than one time.

Symptoms of croup

may start out like a cold with stuffy or runny noses and fever. As your child's airway becomes swollen, he or she may have any of the following:

  • Barking cough that is worse at night, or when your child is upset
  • Noisy, fast, or difficult breathing
  • Hoarse or raspy voice

Call 911 if:

  • Your child stops breathing or breathing becomes difficult.
  • Your child faints.
  • Your child's lips or fingernails turn blue, gray, or white.
  • The skin between your child's ribs or around his or her neck goes in with every breath.
  • Your child is dizzy or sleeping more than what is normal for him or her.
  • Your child drools or has trouble swallowing his or her saliva.

Seek immediate care if:

  • Your child has no tears when he or she cries.
  • The soft spot on the top of your baby's head is sunken in.
  • Your child has wrinkled skin, cracked lips, or a dry mouth.
  • Your child urinates less than what is normal for him or her.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child does not get better after sitting in a steamy bathroom for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Your child's cough does not go away.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

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 or her into the bathroom, close the bathroom door, and turn on a hot shower. Do not put your child into 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 or her 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 or her cough.
  • Do not let others smoke around your child. Smoke can make your child's breathing and coughing worse.

Prevent the spread of croup:

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
  • Do not let your child share cups, forks, spoons, and plates with others.
  • Keep your child home from school or daycare.

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

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

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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.

Further information

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

Learn more about Croup In Children (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes