While the common cold normally comes and goes without too much suffering, there are some cold like conditions that can put a lot of burden on the whole family due to the lingering nature of the symptoms that come afterwards. Croup is one of these conditions.
What Is Croup?
Croup is a viral infection that is brought on by the parainfluenza virus. In most cases, it starts off like a cold, lasting for a few days, and then what follows for the next two to three weeks is a lingering, high-pitched cough that sounds like a seal or a dog bark and a wheezing sound (Stridor) when breathing. Because the virus also attacks the vocal box (larynx), the child has a raspy, hoarse voice, especially when they are crying. Croup normally comes around during the fall and early winter, and according to WebMD (https://www.webmd.com/children/understanding-croup-basic-information), is more common in boys than girls.
It is also more noticeably common among children between the ages of three months and five years, which is because their windpipes are not large enough, so the swelling created by the virus has more impact on the child.
While the virus can also attack older children and adults, the symptoms are not that noticeable because their airways are large enough to prevent the inflammation from causing too much problems with their breathing.
For both the infected child and parents, croup can be especially troublesome during the night, as it makes it difficult for anybody to sleep.
This condition is usually contagious for roughly 3 days or when the fever goes down, so children need to wait out this time before going back to school.
What’s the Best Way to Treat Croup?
Because it is a viral condition, antibiotics won’t work. Your child will simply have to let the virus run its course, and during that time, parents can use certain doctor approved remedies at home to help relieve the cough and stridor. Here are a few:
Breathe in Cold Air: a popular way to relieve stridor is by letting your child breathing cold air, which you can achieve by opening the fridge or taking them outside if it is cold.
Drink Plenty of Fluids: it is important that your child stays hydrated, so make sure they drink enough fluids throughout the day. If the coughing is making it difficult to keep the drink down, it’s important to go to a doctor immediately so that they can take the necessary action to help your child stay hydrated.
Use Tylenol or Ibuprofen: if your child does have a fever that is over 100.4°F, then these types of over-the-counter medication can be effective. However, only use them when it is necessary, and make sure you follow the directions carefully.
How Not to Treat Croup
Be careful of using supplements such as vitamin C or zinc because none have been proven to reduce the symptoms of croup. Also, stay away from cold medicines such as DayQuil or Sudafed if your child is under the age of six. These medications have the possibility of causing excessive sleepiness and can suppress breathing.
Even though many websites recommend putting your child into a steam room to breathe in the steam, NHS.uk advises against it (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/croup/). Regardless, before trying any type of remedy, always ask your pediatrician for their advice as this should always override any information you get on the net.
Croup is one of those viral infections that can be extremely tiring for the child suffering from it and the parents alike. It often means many sleepless nights because of the abrupt noises from the constant coughing and anxiety that the child and parents suffer from. So parents, just hanging there and let the virus run its course.
However, if your child seems to be getting worse due to lack of oxygen that is caused from the difficulty of breathing and constant coughing, take them to the hospital as soon as possible so that the medical team can implement the necessary treatment to relieve the symptoms and help your child back to full recovery.