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Croup: Everything You Need To Know

Croup may sound scary, but it’s an incredibly common illness in babies and can be treated quickly.

What is croup?

Croup is a respiratory condition where the airways, especially the upper part (including the voice box and windpipe), become inflamed.

‘It tends to affect children between six months and three years, and, in most cases, it isn’t serious,’ says paediatrician Dr Ranj Singh.

One of the most unmistakeable signs is a bark-like cough

Croup Signs and Symptoms

One of the most unmistakeable signs is a bark-like cough. ‘The swollen airways narrow, causing the distinctive sound,’ says health visitor Penny Lazell. Other symptoms include a stuffy, runny nose; a sore throat and fever.

What causes croup?

There are two types. ‘Viral is the most common and occurs alongside cold and flu symptoms,’ says Penny. ‘The second type – spasmodic – comes on suddenly and is linked to allergies and acid reflux. With this, your baby will have short episodes of coughing without cold symptoms.’

How can I treat croup?

If your child’s symptoms are mild, you can usually treat them at home. ‘Most cases get better within days,’ says Dr Singh. ‘You can ease fever and discomfort with infant paracetamol, while cold drinks or ice lollies may soothe a sore throat and keep him hydrated.’ Cough medicines and decongestants won’t help, nor will a steamy bathroom or humidifiers.

When to see your GP

See your doctor if your baby’s symptoms don’t improve after 48 hours. ‘Your GP may prescribe steroids to calm the swelling in the airway,’ says Penny. However, if your child is struggling to breathe, makes a loud, raspy sound while breathing in – known as stridor – or has a blue tinge to his lips and face, go to hospital straightaway.

‘He’ll be given steroids or adrenaline through a nebuliser – which lets you inhale medication as a mist – and be kept in for observation,’ says Dr Ranj.

Has your baby had croup? Let us know in the comments box below.

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