What is it?

  • Inflammation of upper airways caused by a respiratory virus (para-influenza, rhinovirus and others)
  • Usually starts in middle of night – often accompanied by fever of 102-104
  • Barky, sharp cough that usually resolves as the sun rises
  • Can be accompanied by difficulty breathing, especially in children less than 3
  • Often causes a sore throat, followed by cold symptoms and a looser cough, and frequently causes laryngitis, or hoarseness (uncommon with strep throat)

How to treat it?

  • Controlling the inflammation and keeping the airway open is the goal of treatment
  • Cool air helps – you can stand by the open freezer, open windows,  go outside for walk, or use cool mist humidifier in room
  • Run a hot shower to steam up the bathroom, then sit with your child (outside of the shower!) for 10-15 minutes at a time.
  • Ibuprofen is a great anti-inflammatory medication.  Give a full dose based on weight, even in the absence of fever
  • Over the counter cough medicines such as Delsym or Robitussin Long-Acting Cough may help those over 2 years of age.
  • Croup is usually bad for 2 nights so even if your child improves during the day give a prophylactic dose of ibuprofen before bed the second night as well and have the windows open and humidifier ready

When to call

  • If your child is having any trouble breathing, shown by pulling in with chest muscles, looking uncomfortable when they lay flat
  • Croup that lasts more than 3 nights or croup that is still very bad during daylight hours. (most symptoms subside during the daytime)