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Croup Cough

Managing the Croup Cough

If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance you’ve had to get out of bed by the unmistakable cough sound of croup. Croup is uncomfortable for your little ones and refers to an infection in the upper airways that obstructs normal breathing. It affects the windpipe (trachea), vocal cords (larynx), and upper airways of the lungs also known as the bronchial tubes. Croup affects two out of every 100 children each year.

In this blog, we’ll attempt to gain an understanding of what croup is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.


Croup is usually caused by viral infections including influenza, common cold, and in rare cases, a bacterial infection. It is most common in infants and children between the ages of six months and up to 5 years. Most children affected by the virus will develop symptoms of a common cold instead of croup.


The differentiating factor between a normal cough and croup is that a croup cough sounds similar to a barking seal with a raspy, harsh noise when breathing in. This high pitched sound is known as stridor and is caused by disrupted airflow due to swelling of the windpipe and vocal cords that result in narrowing of the airways that makes it difficult to breathe.

Children younger than three years old are increasingly prone to this illness due to smaller airways. The symptoms are preceded by a sore throat and fever.

These symptoms may develop into a continuous cough that occurs during early morning and night known as a spasmodic cough. The main signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing or excessive drooling
  • Struggling to breath
  • Making high-pitched noises while inhaling and exhaling
  • Rapid Breathing

If such signs appear, it is highly advisable to take the child to the nearest hospital.


A few, effective ways to manage a croup cough are:

  • Keeping the Child Calm: Croup causes narrowing and inflammation of the airways that makes it increasingly difficult to breathe. The situation gets worse the more the child cries. Try to keep them calm by playing a quiet game, reading a book, cuddling and hugging.
  • Keeping the Head Elevated: Use pillows to prop up the child’s head unless they are under 1 year of age. Sleep in the same room to provide comfort and help in case the coughing returns.
  • Moistening the Air: Moist air helps to calm down the symptoms. Use a humidifier to moisten the air. If you don’t have one, run hot water through the shower to make the bathroom humid and steamy. Sit with your child in the bathroom for around 15 minutes. Also, you can take a car ride with the child and have the windows slightly lowered.

Most children recover from croup without medication except for those who have a history of asthma or other lung diseases. If the symptoms persist for a couple of days without showing signs of receding, our primary care clinic in Mesa is home to skilled and friendly physicians that provide effective treatment in a caring way. Contact us today!

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