Croup is a common viral infection usually seen in the fall and the spring. Since croup is caused by a virus, children often have signs of a viral infection (fevers, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches, etc…). The hallmark characteristic of croup is the cough.
1. Parents often describe the cough as seal like or barky like a dog.
2. The cough usually occurs in the middle of the night and improves during the day.
The treatment of croup has not changed much over the years.
a. Push fluids, especially clear cool liquids which help soothe the throat.
b. Tylenol and/or Motrin for fevers and aches.
3. Just before bedtime turn the shower on and fill the bathroom with steam. Then bring the child into the bathroom and let him/her breathe the steamy air for 15-20 minutes. Then take him/her outside for 15-20 minutes.
4. While the child is sleeping, a cool mist vaporizer/humidifier needs to be in the bedroom and as close the child’s face as possible.
5. If the child wakes in the middle of the night from the croupy cough, repeat the steam shower and taking the child outside. If this does not work, place the child in his/her car seat, roll down all the windows in the car and take the child to the closest Emergency Room (not a Med Check.)
Medications: (because croup is a virus there is no specific treatment and the medications used are to help reduce symptoms.)
a. Steroids have been found to dramatically improve the symptoms of croup. The physician may give these as a shot, a liquid or a pill.
b. Racemic Epinephrine/Vaponephrine is a specialized breathing treatment sometimes given for croup. If a physician gives your child a breathing treatment for the croup, they will keep your child in the ER or office for 2-4 hours to monitor your child. This is done because 1 out of 5 children who receive a Vaponephrine treatment will get worse and need to be kept in the hospital over night.
Symptoms of Concern:
1. Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, increased work of breathing.
3. Cyanosis or blue lips.