What is croup?
Croup is a condition where the trachea (the tube carrying air
to the lungs) and the vocal cords are swollen and may have some
What causes croup?
It's usually caused by a virus.
What are the symptoms of croup?
Croup causes a hoarse, barky cough (like the barking of a seal)
and noisy breathing. Fever, runny nose, and a hoarse voice may
also be present.
How do children get croup?
If your child's croup was caused by a virus, it may have easily
been "caught" from someone who has a cold or respiratory
infection. Your child can get it or give it to someone else by
direct contact cuddling or touching something (clothes,
hands, tables) that has been coughed or sneezed on.
How do you treat croup?
Your doctor might order:
- X-rays to determine how severe the illness is.
- Mucous collection to determine if the infection is caused
by a virus.
- Cool mist tent (with oxygen if needed) to decrease swelling.
- A monitor, if needed, to watch the heart rate and to watch
for the need for oxygen.
- Aerosol breathing treatments to open the airways and make
- An IV (intravenous line) if your child has difficulty breathing
and can't drink safely.
- Steroid therapy to decrease inflammation of the airways.
- Antibiotics if he/she thinks your child might have a bacterial
infection. (Generally antibiotics are not used with a virus.)
- Encourage your child to rest.
- Try to keep calmness and quiet around the child.
- Encourage fluids when the child is ready.
How long does croup last?
The croupy cough usually lasts 3 to 10 days, but some viruses
cause coughing that last up to 6 weeks.
What happens after the hospital?
- Remember to wash your hands before and after touching a person
with an infection or the things around them.
- Encourage your child to rest in a position that lets him or
her breath easiest.
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids.
Call the doctor immediately if your child:
- Can't stop coughing after 10 minutes in a hot steamy bathroom.
- Has more noisy breathing.
- Has fever greater than 101°F.
- Has more difficulty finding a comfortable position to breath.
- Lips or nails become bluish.
- Shortness of breath is worse.
- Refuses to drink fluids.
- Is not making urine at least six times a day.
From the Parent/Patient Education Series
Holmes Regional Medical Center Pediatric Services
Peds: Pt Ed 5. Reviewed