Your Weekly Medical Advice
Croup is a viral infection which causes swelling of the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). This swelling makes the airway narrower, so it is harder to breathe. Croup often begins like a normal cold followed by a harsh, barking cough. This may be worse at night when the air is cooler. It usually affects children up to five years old. Some children get croup several times. A mild attack of croup is when your child has the harsh, barking cough but does not have noisy breathing (stridor) at rest or is not struggling to breathe. Mild croup can usually be managed at home. Sometimes steroids (prednisolone) taken by mouth are given for croup. The steroids help reduce the swelling in the airway and this will make breathing easier. Antibiotics do not work on viruses and are not given to children with croup. If your child’s croup attack is severe they will need to stay in hospital. Severe croup is when your child has noisy breathing (stridor) when resting, with the muscles around the ribs suck in when breathing, and appears very distressed. Croup can get worse quickly. If your child is having problems breathing they should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.