Croup is an upper airway infection marked by difficulty in breathing and barking cough.
Croup is a common respiratory infection commonly seen in young children. Croup is usually caused by a virus, and marked by inflammation of upper airways including the larynx (voice box) and trachea (wind pipe). The swelling in the windpipe interferes with normal breathing and causes a characteristic of barking cough.
What causes croup?
Croup is contagious. It usually occurs a few days after the start of a cold and is generally caused by the same viruses which cause common cold. A child may contract a virus by breathing infected respiratory droplets coughed or sneezed in to the air. The viruses in these droplets may also survive on toys and other surfaces. If the child touches a contaminated surface and then touches her or his eyes, nose or mouth, the infection may follow.
A habit of regular hand-washing and limiting contact with others can help to prevent the spread of croup. As children grow, their lungs and windpipes mature, they are less likely to get croup. Getting a flu vaccine each year may help to fight against the viruses that can lead to croup.
What are the symptoms of croup?
Since croup often begins as a typical cold, the symptoms of croup are similar to a common cold such as stuffy or runny nose and fever. But because of the swollen airways, child may have some symptoms which include:
- → A barking cough
- → Hoarse voice
- → Harsh and crowing noise while breathing
- → Sore throat
What are the risk factors of croup?
- Children between three months to five years have an increased risk of getting croup.
- → Boys are at high risk to develop croup than girls.
- → Children who haven’t taken influenza vaccine may be affected by croup.
- → Most of the children may be affected by croup in the early months of winter.
How to diagnose croup?
Croup can be diagnosed based on child’s symptoms and physical exam. It can also be diagnosed by observing the child’s breathing and throat.
How to treat croup?
In many cases, croup can be treated in home. Soothing the child during an attack and staying calm is really important, as crying and agitation may worsen the swollen airways. Some of the ways by which croup can be treated at home are as follows:
- → Steam can really help to get relief from blocked airways. Run a hot shower in the bathroom. Do not put child in the hot shower. After bathroom is filled with steam, ask the child to breathe in the moist air for 10 to 15 minutes.
- → Avoid smoking in the house and around the child.
- → Don’t give the child cough or cold medicines unless they are prescribed by the doctor.
- → It is important to keep the child hydrated. Offer water, juices and fluids each hour
If the child’s symptoms don’t get better even after trying these tips, it is better to consult a doctor. In rare cases, child needs to stay in the hospital to get extra oxygen or the other treatment.
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