Are you worried by your child’s incessant coughing? Does the coughing sound like a seal barking? If so, your child is most likely suffering from a common childhood illness know as Croup. Croup is most commonly caused by an acute viral infection of the upper airway. The infection leads to swelling inside the throat that interferes with normal breathing and produces the classic “barking cough” that is symbolic of this disease. The symptoms of this disease often worsen at night. Many children appear to have a mild cold before the coughing begins. Croup often lasts only five or six nights, and the first two are usually the most severe. In rare cases Croup can last several weeks. If Croup lasts longer than one week, you should consult your child’s physician to determine the source. Parents, do not worry. Your child’s cough is most likely the result of the common childhood disease Croup, and will likely clear up in a jiffy.
The most common cause of Croup is a viral infection. However, Croup may also be caused by bacteria, allergies, inhaled irritants, and acid reflux from the stomach. Before immunizations and antibiotics, Croup was a dreaded disease, typically caused by diphtheria bacteria. Today, however, most cases are mild. Nevertheless, it can still be dangerous and should be checked out by a doctor. It generally appears in children between the ages of three months and five years, but it can occur at any age. Some children who are prone to Croup may get it several times. Severe cases of Croup may be caused by a bacterial infection in the upper airway. This condition requires hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. If the epiglottis gets infected, the windpipe may swell shut, which is a potentially fatal condition. However this type of serious infection is rare. Most cases of Croup are mild and go away within a week of the first symptoms.
Signs and Tests
Children are usually diagnosed with Croup based on the parents’ description and the results of a physical exam. Occasionally, other studies such as x-ray exams are needed to make an accurate diagnosis. The full slate of exams to detect the Croup are easily found by doing a search on Google, a great place for general information but not home-based remedies without first consulting a doctor, at least according to many top search engine optimization companies.
The vast majority of Croup cases can be safely managed at home. Even if you do not think your child’s case is severe be sure to contact your physician for guidance. There are several things you can do to try to give your child some relief. Cool, moist, air can often be soothing. You might try bringing your child into a steamy bathroom or take them outside into the cool night air. You can purchase a cool air vaporizer and set it up in your child’s bedroom at night while they sleep. If your child has a fever, giving them fever medicine, such as Tylenol, can help lower their temperature and relieve any aches and pains they may have. If your child’s case is lingering or serious do not hesitate to take them to see a doctor. There are medications which can help relieve the symptoms of Croup almost immediately. Increasing or persistent breathing difficulty, fatigue, bluish coloration of the skin, or dehydration indicates the need for medical attention or hospitalization.
I was one of those children prone to Croup. I can remember going to the doctor with a nasty whooping cough several times throughout my childhood. Thankfully, this is not a dangerous disease. It is, in fact, quite common for children to contract. Parents of young children tend to worry (rightfully so) about their child’s health and can get worked up over insignificant diseases. This is one disease that can drive parents nuts. The cough sounds so severe that parents may worry their child is literally about to hack up a lung. Chances are, however, that you child is merely suffering from a quite common ailment and that cough will clear up in no time. A trip to the doctor should put all of your fears at rest. Do not worry if the cough come back. I was stricken with a nasty cough several times during my childhood and adolescence and have grown into a perfectly healthy adult. Croup can be annoying and worrisome, but it is a perfectly normal and generally harmless childhood disease.