General Health & Wellness • Nov 30, 2023

A Parent’s Guide to Croup Symptoms & Treatment

Croup is a common disease caused by an infection in the upper airway. Children with croup often have coughs that are high in pitch or barklike. Sometimes parents describe the noise as similar to a seal or dog bark. They may also have noisy breathing, specifically on the inhale. Inflammation in the larynx, trachea, and bronchi cause these distinct symptoms. Croup can occur suddenly, or it can follow symptoms of a respiratory virus.

If your child has croup, look for signs of distress, such as difficulty talking or breathing or a blueish discoloration of the lips and fingers. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your pediatrician or bring your child into the emergency department. In cases where your child does not exhibit those difficulties, you can manage croup symptoms at home. Keeping your child calm and giving them cold fluids can help them feel better. Additionally, you can let your child sit by a steaming tub of water for 10-15 minutes. This will allow them to breathe in the humidified air, which can soothe airways. Cold air exposure has also been shown in studies to help with symptoms of croup. Because of this, another way to help your child is to bundle them up and take them outside for 20-30 minutes.

If your child is having difficulty breathing or you are otherwise worried, call 911, bring them to the emergency department, or speak with your pediatrician immediately.