How to Treat Croup

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How to Treat Croup. Croup is a respiratory infection that causes the airways leading to the lungs to become swollen and inflamed. It's characterized by a harsh cough that resembles a seal barking; a raspy sound when inhaling; and a fever. Most affected are children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years.

Hold and comfort the child. Agitation and fear can worsen symptoms.

Use a cool mist humidifier or vaporizer. The mist will help relieve airway swelling and loosen secretions.

Turn on the shower to steam up the room, and then take the child inside. Sit on the toilet seat or on a chair. Keep the child in the steamy room for 15 minutes. Read a book aloud to help keep him or her quiet.

Bundle the child up and take him or her outside into the cool night air (most croup occurs at night). Croup usually responds quickly to moist air.

Make your own croup tent. Place the vaporizer under the child's bed. Drape a blanket over a crib (use an umbrella if your child is old enough for a bed). This will trap the steam.

Avoid leaving your child alone under the croup tent. You need to stay awake to monitor symptoms.

Encourage the child to drink liquids, especially clear ones. This helps to thin mucus.

Avoid milk, as it makes secretions thicker.

Continue to assess symptoms. If croup doesn't improve after trying several methods of self-care (steam, night air, croup tent) for at least 15 minutes each or seems to be worsening, you may need to go to the emergency room.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most cases of croup respond to self-care, and rarely is medical intervention necessary. Croup can also be caused by an allergy or can be an early sign of asthma.
  • Croup is often confused with croup epiglottitis, which is caused by a bacterial infection and can be life-threatening.
  • If your child is gasping for air, drooling and can't swallow, or has a bluish tinge to skin, seek emergency care immediately.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, contact a physician or other health care professional before engaging in any activity related to health and diet. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

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