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What is croup?

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.

What are the signs and symptoms of croup?

  • Barking cough
  • Noisy, fast, or difficult breathing
  • Sore throat or hoarse voice
  • Fever
  • Restlessness or easily becoming tired
  • Drooling or trouble swallowing

How is croup treated?

  • 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. 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.
  • Medicine may be needed to decrease swelling and open your child's airway so it is easier for him to breathe. Your child may also need oxygen or IV fluids. In rare cases, your child may need a tube placed into his airway to help him breathe.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • 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 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.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

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. 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.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. 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 CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.