What is croup?

Croup is an acute viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. The disease is also called laryngotracheobronchitis because it affects the larynx, trachea and bronchi. This infection leads to inflammation, increased secretion of mucus and swelling of the upper respiratory tract.

Although croup usually goes away on its own, between 5 and 10% of affected children will need to be admitted to hospital. Laryngotracheobronchitis continues to be one of the most common causes of respiratory distress in young children.

Children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years are at greatest risk of this disease. Boys are more susceptible to this viral infection, as the peak of infections is in late autumn and winter.

What are the symptoms of croup?

The infection begins with the symptoms of a common cold, a characteristic “barking” cough /described as similar to the barking of a seal or sea lion/, low-grade fever, usually lasting 2- 3 days. “”The typical cough also goes away in 2-3 days and in most cases gets worse at night. In most cases, the child’s voice is hoarse and he swallows with difficulty.

What are the causes?

It is most often caused by a viral infection of the respiratory tract, with children being particularly vulnerable due to their weak immune systems. The most common causes are parainfluenza – the most common cause of this type of infection, adenoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus and rhinoviruses.

Self-treatment of croup at home

Although inhalation of warm steam, humidified air, and exposure of the child to cold air have not been proven effective in relieving the symptoms of laryngotracheobronchitis, they are still routinely recommended by pediatricians, as they are generally not aggressive. Paradoxically, they help some children with moderate symptoms.

  • Consider replacing the child’s milk with water or liquids until the infection clears. Frequent swallowing of clear liquids will help to clear mucus from the airways more easily and at the same time prevent the child from becoming dehydrated.
  • Crying can make the cough spastic, so try to calm the child to avoid the spasms.
  • You can give the child paracetamol and ibuprofen for the sore throat and fever. Medicines that contain aspirin should not be given to children unless prescribed by a doctor because of the risk of a serious liver disease called Reye Syndrome.
  • Cough medicines are not suitable for children and you can give them to the child only if they are prescribed by his pediatrician. Avoid exposing the child to respiratory irritants such as smoke.

Conventional treatment of croup

The extent of the disease should be determined first and this will guide the treatment.< /p>

  • Steroid therapy has been shown to be effective in children. They can be administered orally, parenterally or intravenously. Inhaled steroids have limited use. Because most cases of the disease are caused by viral infections, antibiotics are not an effective treatment.
  • Nebulized epinephrine / ready-to-inhale solution and airway dilator / or racemic epinephrine can be used for children with moderate to severe symptoms. There is currently no evidence that racemic epinephrine is more effective than nebulized epinephrine.

If your child responds to the treatment, the doctor may consider keeping him under observation for a few hours to make sure , that the symptoms will not start to appear again. If symptoms persist, despite treatment, this will require hospitalization of the child.

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