Health tips

All about croup…the noisy infection.


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

A Mum Track Mind

7 thoughts on “All about croup…the noisy infection.

  1. Thanks for sharing this as I didn’t know the signs of croup. The video you shared is really helpful and it’s so awful to see that little one struggling to breathe. My son had bronchiolitis when he was a eeek old which was pretty scary and it looked a bit like that. Do you have any advice on how to determine one vs the other?

    My 2 year old has a hacking cough at the moment that’s been lingering for a few weeks but no difficulty breathing like in this video. With so many difficult types of coughs it’s helpful to know when you should act. Thanks for a very insightful post. Sharing now! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, thx for comment! Bronchiolitis at 1 week old must have been pretty scary.. It’s difficult to determine which it is if you are not used to seeing the conditions (and it helps to have a stethoscope!!). A basic answer is that the croup cough sounds like a seal’s bark, as opposed to a hacking cough. It is pretty distinctive. Bronchiolitis doesn’t present with a seal-like bark and is more diagnosed when a doctor has a listen to the chest. Never hesitate in taking your little one for a check up if you are worried, after all, differentiating between a lingering cough and a more serious infection is a job we are pretty used to and very happy to do! x x


  2. I’ve been lucky as neither of my girls have had croup but I’ve always been a bit scared of it. To be honest I always thought it was more scary than just a dose of steroids. I also thought it lasted much longer. Thank you for the advise!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Claudia this is a really informative and practical post. The video clearly shows the cough with croup is very different to a normal cough. So sorry that you had to go through it with your little boy, I hope that it was too traumatic for you. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wasn’t pleasant. In fact today is a year to the day my son was admitted with croup. The night before my daughter’s first nativity play (which we insisted on still going to, but were totally exhausted and nervous wrecks!)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.