Croup: A Barking Cough in Children

Croup is a respiratory illness common in young children, causing swelling in the upper airway. This swelling narrows the airways, making breathing difficult and producing a distinctive cough. While concerning, croup is usually mild and resolves on its own within a few days. Here’s a look at the causes, symptoms, and treatments for croup in children.

Causes of Croup

  • Viruses: The most frequent culprits behind croup are viruses, with parainfluenza virus being the most common. Other viruses like RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), adenovirus, and influenza can also cause croup.
  • Rare Causes: In rare cases, bacteria, allergies, or even reflux from the stomach can contribute to croup symptoms.

Symptoms of Croup

Croup’s hallmark symptom is a barking cough, often described as sounding like a seal bark. Other signs to watch for include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Stridor, a high-pitched whistling sound when inhaling (indicates more severe croup)
  • Difficulty breathing, especially at night or when anxious

Treatment for Croup

Most croup cases are mild and can be managed at home with comfort measures:

  • Cool Mist: A cool mist humidifier can loosen mucus and ease breathing.
  • Warm Bath: The steam from a warm bath can soothe a cough.
  • Elevation: Prop your child up with pillows while sleeping to aid breathing.
  • Over-the-counter Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with fever and discomfort (consult your pediatrician for dosage).

Seek Medical Attention If:

  • Breathing becomes very labored or rapid.
  • Your child seems excessively tired or lethargic.
  • Inhaling seems difficult, with retracting of the chest muscles.
  • Croup symptoms worsen or persist for more than a few days.

Prevention Tips

  • Frequent Handwashing: Frequent handwashing with soap and water is the best defense against respiratory viruses that cause croup.
  • Avoid Smoke and Secondhand Smoke: Protect your child from secondhand smoke and other irritants that can worsen croup symptoms.

Remember: Croup is a common childhood illness. While the barking cough can be scary, most cases are mild and improve with home care. If you’re concerned about your child’s breathing or symptoms worsen, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.

PS: Please feel free to share our articles with friends and family.                                                          

© 2024 The Pediatric Center Children Hospital

2a Sulaimon Abdullahi Street, Agungi, Lekki, Lagos

Road 2, House 20, Greenland Estate, Olokonla, Ajah-Sangotedo, Lagos


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *