My son had croup when he was 9 months old.
It takes a lot to frighten me when it comes to my children being unwell (trust me, a LOT). I’m that cold heartless mum that will tell my kids to “sleep that fever off”, “suck it up, it’s just pain” and “quit your whining, a bleeding elbow won’t kill you”.
But…when my boy got croup last winter, I can honestly say I was pretty terrified.
Croup is rarely a dangerous or life-threatening illness, however the symptoms and signs with which it presents can be really scary.
Here comes some information about croup (and a great link to a video of what a child with croup sounds like.)
What is croup?
- Laryngotracheitis (inflammation of the voice box and windpipe) that is caused by a various viruses and presents with a seal-like barking cough.
- It is typically seen in children aged 6 months to 3 years, but can affect all ages including adults.
- It is most common in late autumn/winter.
How do I know if my child has croup?
- They will have a seal-like barking cough
- A hoarse voice
- Stridor (a noise when they breathe in)
*Click here to see the video of how a croupy cough sounds. This child is asleep.*
What should I do if I think my child has croup?
- Do go see a doctor because it is likely your child will be given a dose of steroids.
- In most cases (such as ours!) you will notice the croup most at night as it tends to get worse then. If you spot croup and your GP surgery is closed- you should call 111/ head to your local Out Of Hours / A&E.
Rarely some children become very ill with croup. Always call an ambulance if your child:
-is struggling to breathe
-is turning blue
-is becoming drowsy
What is the treatment for croup?
- Most children will respond to a single dose of steroid. This is given as a liquid to swallow.
- Croup is safely treated at home and rarely requires hospital admission. Your doctor will decide based on examining your child whether they require a check-up at the hospital or not.
- If your child’s breathing is very noisy (our son’s annoyingly was) then they may need to stay in hospital overnight to be observed.
(Bit of practical advice that I wish I had considered: take a bag with you if it is the evening/night-time because chances are you will have to stay in. Pack enough milk/food/nappies for your child to last until the morning and a change of clothes/toothbrush and bottle of water for yourself.)
- Some children may need a second dose of steroid, so if your little one continues to have noisy breathing/a barking cough- do go see your doctor again for review.
- The infection typically passes within 2 days.
- Antibiotics do not help as croup is caused by a virus and viruses are not killed by antibiotics.
- Unfortunately just because your child has had it once, it doesn’t mean they are immune to it and there is a chance they may have it again. (But second time round we will all be prepared!)
Please share your croup stories with us!
Dr Claudia x
Please note: The materials in this web site are in no way intended to replace the professional medical care, advice, diagnosis or treatment of a doctor. The web site does not have answers to all problems. Answers to specific problems may not apply to everyone. If you notice medical symptoms or feel ill, you should consult your doctor. Dr Claudia x