New treatment for croup has led to a dramatic reduction in harm from this common disease.
What is croup?
Croup is a viral infection (usually) which causes narrowing of the windpipe and voice box. It generally begins as a head cold, followed by hoarseness, a barking cough and 'stridor' (a crowing sound as the child breathes in). Croup is most common between 1 and 2 years of age and is usually worse at night.
Most children have a mild illness consisting of a barking cough which gets better on its own. However, croup can sometimes cause breathing difficulties and may need urgent medical attention.
How is it treated?
Most doctors do not recommend steam inhalation as it is not usually effective and may cause burns. Antibiotics also do not help, as croup is a viral illness.
The use of cortisone for croup has been a major breakthrough. A single dose of syrup or spray gives relief within several hours in most cases. As quite small doses are used the risk of side-effects is very low.
When to seek medical care
Seek help if concerned or if your child:
- Has difficulty breathing or is blue.
- Has a 'stridor' while sitting quietly.
- Becomes restless or anxious.
- Has a high temp and is dribbling.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.