First Aid: Croup
Croup is a viral infection in the upper airway, around the vocal cords and windpipe. Swelling in this area causes a barking cough. Croup, most often seen in the fall, can affect kids up to age 5.
Signs and Symptoms
- a barking cough
- a high-pitched sound when breathing in (known as stridor)
- fast or difficult breathing
- stuffy or runny nose
What to Do
- Use a cool-mist humidifier. Having your child breathe in the moist air will sometimes ease symptoms.
- Run a hot shower to create a steam-filled bathroom where you can sit with your child for 20 minutes.
- Take your child outside during cooler months for a few minutes. This may help breathing.
Seek Medical Care
If Your Child:
- has difficulty breathing
- has skin between the ribs pulling in with each breath
- has a pale or bluish color around the mouth
- drools or has difficulty swallowing
- becomes tired easily
Frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with people who have respiratory infections are the best protection against the spread of viruses that cause croup.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014