Croup is a condition in which a combination of illnesses leads to an extreme upper respiratory infection that causes severe inflammation of the lungs and airways. It is most recognizable by the barking cough that children exhibit, usually when crying. Usually children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years are the ones who develop it. Children under the age of 3 usually develop the most severe stages of the illness and need to be monitored closely while ill. Extreme cases of croup can be life-threatening. Premature children are also at high risk for developing it.


Croup is usually caused by a virus, but sometimes an allergic reaction or a bacterial infection can bring it on as well.

Spasmodic croup refers to the condition without symptoms, meaning it appears out of nowhere. The condition usually begins suddenly at night and is not accompanied by a fever, unlike regular viral croup.

Symptoms of croup include the characteristic "barking" cough, rapid breathing, wheezing or even difficulty breathing at all. A child with croup will also exhibit cold symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose, fever, hoarse crying and, in extreme cases, labored breathing due to partially blocked airways, and a bluish-gray tinge to skin. Symptoms usually worsen at night.

How is Croup Diagnosed and Treated? | Keeping Your Child in Good Health

The cough of croup is usually immediately recognizable to doctors, and your child's physician will check for the other symptoms listed above. Sometimes, an X-ray may be necessary to inspect for blockage of the airways.

Since croup is usually caused by a viral infection, antibiotics are useless, although your doctor may administer steroids to calm down the inflammation of your child's airways, depending on how extreme the condition is.

It is recommended that you purchase a humidifier to place in your child's bedroom, since this will aid the child in breathing. Symptoms of croup usually wane after a week, with the most severe symptoms appearing two or three days after initial symptoms appear.

Croup itself is not contagious, but any young child with a cold can contract the virus that causes croup. Croup, if left unattended, can spiral into more serious infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

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