Treatment Options For Croup In Children

Discover how to recognize and treat croup, a viral illness that affects young children's airways. This blog covers the symptoms, causes, and treatment options, including home remedies and hospitalization. You'll also learn about preventative measures and when to see a doctor. Stay informed and protect your child's health

As a parent, you're familiar with common childhood illnesses like runny noses and stomach aches. But have you heard of croup? It's a viral illness that affects the airway and can cause a distinctive barking cough in young children.

In this blog, we'll discuss how to recognize and treat croup so you can help your little one feel better fast.

What Is a Croup?

Children's airways enlarge as a result of the virus that causes croup. As a result, they have a "barking" cough (sometimes compared to a seal barking), a raspy voice, and a high-pitched, squeaky breathing sound.

The majority of children recover from croup within a week.

Who Is at Risk for Developing a Croup?

  • Younger children are more prone to croup due to their narrower airways.

  • Croup is most common in children between the ages of 3 months and five years.

  • Children with asthma or other respiratory conditions may also be at increased risk for developing croup.

What Causes Croup?

  • Croup is caused by viral infections, including the parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

  • These viruses cause inflammation and swelling of the larynx and trachea, which can lead to breathing difficulties.

What Are the Symptoms of Croup?

  • Early symptoms of croup can be similar to those of a cold, including a stuffy or runny nose and fever.

  • A child may develop hoarseness, a barking cough, and a high-pitched, squeaky breathing sound known as stridor.

  • In severe cases, a child may appear pale or bluish around the mouth due to a lack of oxygen.

  • Croup symptoms generally worsen at night and when a child is distressed and crying out.

How Is Croup Contagious?

  • The virus that causes croup is highly contagious and can be easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing.

  • To prevent the spread of croup, it is essential to keep children home from school and child care when they are sick.

  • Regular hand washing can also help prevent the spread of the virus.

How Is Croup Diagnosed?

  • Croup is diagnosed through a physical exam by a doctor, who will look for symptoms of a barking cough and stridor.

  • The doctor will also ask about recent illnesses characterized by fever, runny nose, and congestion, as well as a history of croup or upper airway difficulties.

  • In severe cases, an X-ray of the neck may be recommended to check for constriction of the upper airway, which is known as the "steeple" sign.

How Is The Croup Treated?

Most cases of croup are mild and can be treated at home. Treatment options include:

  • **Medications: **Over-the-counter fever reducers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may help relieve symptoms.

  • Air-Breathing Techniques: Children may feel better when they breathe moist air. Parents can create a steamy bathroom using a cool-mist humidifier or hot shower, where the child can sit for ten minutes.

  • Fluids: Children should drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

  • Rest: Children with croup should rest extensively.

  • In severe cases, a child may require hospitalization for breathing therapy or steroid medication to reduce airway inflammation.

When Should I See A Doctor?

The majority of children who suffer from croup recover entirely. However, some children are at risk for croup problems, especially those born prematurely or with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

  • Exhibits a neck and chest muscle contraction during respiration

  • Experiences extreme weariness, sleepiness, or difficulty waking up

  • If your child exhibits any of the signs below-

  • Respiratory problems, including fast or heavy breathing

  • Suffering from escalating dysrhythmias

  • Thirsty and in need of hydration

  • Too exhausted to speak or walk

  • Trouble swallowing or frequently drools

  • Turned light-coloured or bluish-white lips colour

Preventing Measures

  • Handwashing: Regular hand washing with water and soap, including attention to fingernails, interdigital region, and wrists, for at least 15-30 seconds can help prevent infection with croup-causing viruses. Alcohol-based hand rubs can also be used.

  • **Avoid close contact: **Try to limit direct contact with adults and children with upper respiratory problems, and keep sick infants or children home to prevent the spread of disease to others.

  • Flu vaccination: Children over six months old should receive a flu vaccination each year, typically administered during the fall and winter months. Unfortunately, there are no vaccines available for the majority of viruses that may cause croup.


Croup complications occur infrequently. Most children recover from croup within two days, although symptoms may last up to a week. Less than 5% of children with croup require hospitalization.

Important Facts To Keep In Mind

  • Typically, croup symptoms improve within three to four days.

  • The virus that causes mild croup does not require treatment.

  • If your child's croup is severe, they must be hospitalized for close observation.

  • Attempt to calm your child, as angry or crying children often have difficulty breathing.

  • A cough can rapidly worsen. If your kid is experiencing difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.

Get expert medical advice from our team of experienced pediatricians within 15 minutes or emergency-consultation for your child's health and development. Sign up for Babynama's care plans today to get unlimited access to chat with a pediatrician directly on WhatsApp to get answers to your child's health-related queries and the best possible care. Babynama's aim is to provide fast, reliable, and quality healthcare support to parents. Be a part of Babynama today!