What is croup?
It is an infection of the upper airway (windpipe).  The child with croup has barking cough, hoarseness, low grade fever, and some trouble breathing in (the “croupy” noise after a cough).  It often starts with a runny nose and a cold, for a day or so, before the “croup” begins.
What cause croup?
Croup is caused by a germ-a virus in this case- that goes around in the fall and early winter.  Children under 3 years are most often the ones who get croup.  Older children and adults who catch the germ end up with a cough and a cold.
How long does it last?
Your child will be sick for a week or so (5-10 days usually).  The first day or so the illness is mild with a runny nose and a little cough.  When the “croup” begins it can last for 3-5 days (the “croup” may worsen on the second day), and then gradually improves.  Like so many problems, it seems worse at night.  Sometimes, it may come on at night suddenly and be gone the next day.
Can it be cured?
Because it is caused by a virus germ, there is no antibiotic, “shot,” or other treatment that can cure it, or make it go away faster.  But if you follow some simple steps, your child will feel better. A long acting steroid called dexamethasone (Decadron) may be prescribed to decreasing the swelling that causes the barking cough.
What can I do to treat it?
Try some of these tips:
·         Humidity in the air helps.  Use either a humidifier or go into the bathroom, and turn on the shower or bath until the air gets “steamed up.”  Sometimes, if it’s not too cold outside, it helps to bundle up yourself and your child and walk in the cool night air.
·         Keep your child comfortable.  Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 4 hours, if needed, to take care of fever or pain.  Keep your child in a “position of comfort,” usually upright, and let him sleep in that position.  Avoid back slapping “to bring it up.”  This just makes the cost worse.
·         Encourage fluids.  Make sure your child drinks enough clear liquids or formula.  Your child’s appetite for solids is going to be less for a few days, and that’s okay if he drinks enough nourishing fluids.
·         Get enough rest yourself.  Share the “nursing” of your child with your spouse, a friend or a relative.
When should I call my child’s physician?
Call your pediatrician if the following symptoms or sins are present:
·         Trouble breathing or swallowing
·         Temperature above 102 degrees
·         Difficulty waking him
·         You suspect an ear infection
·         Excessive tiredness
·         Irritability
·         Drinking less than you’d expect
·         Excessive drooling