Croup occurs mainly in babies and toddlers between the ages of six months and four to five years. It typically occurs during the autumn and winter months, aided by the dry air in heated homes.
The cough associated with croup is usually caused by a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract that has spread to the larynx and trachea. This causes the mucosa below the epiglottis to become inflamed and swollen, which results in narrowed airways.
Croup is usually preceded by cold symptoms (cough, cold, possibly a fever) lasting several days.
The typical symptoms of croup are:
- a dry, barking cough that sounds like a seal, particularly at night
- possible shortness of breath with rasping noises when inhaling
- possible fever
What can mum/dad do?
- Stay calm.
- Pick up and calm the child (do not lay the child down!).
- Provide fresh air in the form of damp, cool air (stand by an open window, ventilate the room more frequently, use a humidifier if necessary).
- If necessary, use hot water in the bathroom to generate steam and stay there with the child allowing the child to inhale the damp air.
- In case of fever: give medication to lower the child’s temperature.
- Give plenty to drink.
When should you see a doctor?
- If the child shows signs of croup, it is important to speak to your doctor or have the child seen by a doctor in person. This is also to rule out diseases that sometimes follow a similar pattern such as epiglottitis, which is dangerous.
- When parents themselves panic, this also affects the child and can exacerbate their breathing issues. Should this happen, you should immediately consult a doctor.
In most cases, coughing spells associated with croup quickly subside without the need for further treatment.
If the coughing associated with croup leads to severe shortness of breath, call 144 immediately!
Symptoms of severe shortness of breath:
- visible retraction of the skin while breathing, e. g. between the ribs or around the collarbone,
- trembling nostrils while breathing,
- increased rasping sound while breathing,
- raised heart rate,
- bluish discolouration around the lips,
- accelerated breathing.