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Croup was once a deadly disease which was caused by the diphtheria bacteria in past generations. However, in recent days barking cough in kids can take place due to a viral infection, allergies, problems with breathing or acid reflux. Most cases of croup may be mild but could get dangerous if not treated quickly.
Croup is a condition that inflames the upper airways i.e. the voice box and the windpipe. This causes a barking kind of a cough and hoarseness in the voice which is more noticeable when the child cries. Croup could be viral or spasmodic.
Viral croup can be treated at home, but spasmodic croup can be chronic. However, rarely croup is life threatening or severe. Treatment for any kind of croup is similar, and this can occur in kids from 3 months – 6 years of age. It can be caused by a viral infection, a bacterial infection or even by breathing in something that irritates the windpipe. In smaller children, it could also be because of reflux.
Croup can occur in kids from 3 months – 6 years of age. Preschoolers are more susceptible to croup because of their interaction with other children in playschool.
Symptoms of Croup
A cough that sounds like a barking seal is the first indication of croup. Kids usually have a mild cough before the barking cough becomes evident. Breathing can get laboured as the cough increases. Croup gets worse at night and can last up to 7 nights. The first few nights are usually quite severe. Croup rarely goes on for weeks. If it goes beyond a week, you need to consult a doctor. A physical examination or if the doctor hears the cough over the phone is sufficient to identify the croup. In some cases, doctors might recommend an x-ray.
Treatment for Croup
Croup can be safely managed at home, but do visit your paediatrician before you start the treatment. Keeping a child in a moist atmosphere – a steamy bathroom or having a cool air vaporiser in his bedroom might help. Increasing the humidity of the room will help the child breathe easy.
If a child has a fever along with it, do consult a doctor. Avoid cough medicines, unless the doctor prescribes it with a specific intent. If breathing becomes laborious and fatigue sets in, or there is any indication of change in the skin colour or dehydration sets in, your child might need hospitalization.
Viral croup might take about 7 days to go away, but bacterial croup might go away quickly with prompt treatment. If you do not treat airway obstruction, the child might have difficulty in breathing and lead to respiratory arrest.
Lastly, it can be said that to prevent croup, make your child wash his hands frequently. Avoid close contact with those who have a respiratory infection. If your child has croup, keep him away from public places. Diphtheria and measles vaccines are also known to protect the child from some kinds of croup.