Dr. M.J. Bazos, Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis
Croup is an inflammation and obstruction of the upper airway usually caused by a viral infection. It affects the vocal cords and surrounding tissue, resulting in labored breathing and a “barking cough.” Children younger than 6 years are the most frequently affected. Croup is more common in children with allergies and those with a family history of croup. It generally occurs in the fall and winter months. Recovery takes a few days.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms of the disease include hoarseness, throat pain, fever, and a barking cough with difficulty breathing. These may worsen at night.

Tylenol can be given for the pain and fever. During an attack, steam from a hot shower can help soothe the air passages and make breathing easier. Hold a young child on your lap in the bathroom while the shower runs. A cool-mist vaporizer at the child’s bedside can also be helpful. Remember to change the water and clean it daily. Keep the child calm because breathing becomes more difficult with anxiety. Prop the child in a semiupright position.

The DOs
• Keep the child calm, playing quietly in bed.
• Give plenty of fluids such as ice pops, fruit juices, or ginger ale.
• Use a cool-mist vaporizer at the bedside. Remember to change the water and clean it daily.
• Prop the child in a comfortable semiupright position.
• Give Tylenol for pain and fever.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t give a young child aspirin because it has been associated with Reye’s syndrome.
• Don’t give solid foods until the child can breathe easily.
• Don’t worry if the child doesn’t eat much; loss of appetite is common. However, make sure he takes fluids.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If your child has trouble breathing, cannot swallow water or saliva, or his lips become darker or blue—GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT.
• If your child develops an earache, productive cough, another fever, or shortness of breath a few days after the attack is over.