Croup could be the cause of your child’s breathing problems. This article discusses the causes and symptoms of coup to help you identify the condition. We will also discuss treatments and preventative measurements that can be taken.

If you are concerned about your child’s breathing, reach out to the Pediatric Associates of Austin today! Our experienced team of pediatricians in Austin, Texas is on hand to address any concerns and provide quality care for your kids.

What is Croup?

Croup is a viral infection that causes the airway to swell. It can cause your child to have a “barking” cough that some compare to a seal’s bark. They may also have a raspy voice and a high-pitched squeak when they breathe.

Is Croup Contagious?

Yes, croup is a contagious disease. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets when coughing or sneezing. Your child could get infected if they touch these infected droplets and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

What Causes Croup?

Croup is usually caused by a virus. Viruses known to cause croup include the Parainfluenza virus, Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Influenza virus, Adenovirus, and Enteroviruses.

The virus can cause the upper airways, including the voice box (larynx) and windpipe, to become irritated and swollen. This can cause symptoms such as a hoarse voice or a barking cough. If swelling continues, it may be difficult for your child to breathe and could cause a high-pitched squeaking noise called stridor.

Apart from the viral coup, there is also a condition called spasmodic croup. This can be caused by an allergic reaction or stomach reflux.

Who is at Risk of Getting Croup?

Younger children are more likely to have croup, particularly those between 6 months and 3 years old. However, it can affect children up to 5 years old.

Symptoms of Croup

Croup symptoms can include the following:

  • Cold like symptoms
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Fever
  • Hoarse voice
  • Barking cough
  • High-pitched squeaking noise

Severe symptoms of croup in kids can include a pale or bluish color around the mouth due to a lack of oxygen. Your child’s symptoms will likely worsen at night and when crying or upset. It is a good idea to sleep in the same room as your child so that you can observe their symptoms.

When to Call a Healthcare Provider

Most children with croup do not need medical treatment. However, if your child was born early, has asthma, or has any other lung disease, they can be at high risk of developing problems.

You should get immediate medical care if your child has the following symptoms:

  • They have trouble breathing
  • They can’t talk or walk because they’re so out of breath
  • Their neck and chest muscles tense up when breathing
  • The wheezing sound (stridor) is getting worse
  • Looks pale or bluish around the mouth
  • Is drooling or having trouble swallowing
  • Feels extremely tired, sleepy, or is hard to wake up
  • Shows signs of dehydration, including a dry or sticky mouth, few tears when crying, sunken eyes, feeling thirsty, and peeing less than usual

How is Croup Diagnosed?

Your child’s provider will diagnose croup by observing their symptoms, particularly the cough and stridor. They will also ask about any recent illness that caused a fever, runny nose, or congestion. They will also consider if your child has had a history of croup or any other airway problems.

If your child has severe croup, a doctor may order an X-ray. An X-ray will show a narrowing airway called the “steeple” sign.

How is Croup Treated?

Children with mild croup can be treated at home and usually clear up within 3 to 7 days. Croup treatment for mild cases may include the following:

  • Keep your child calm, as crying can make symptoms worse.
  • Use acetaminophen such as Tylenol®, Panadol®, FeverAll®, or Tempra® to keep their fever down.
  • Help your child breathe moist air by using a cool-mist humidifier in their room or taking them outside to breathe cool air.
  • Keep them hydrated.
  • Allow them to get plenty of rest.

Children with severe croup may need breathing treatment at the hospital or receive a steroid shot to reduce swelling.

Preventing Croup

To prevent croup, follow the same precautions you would for preventing colds and the flu. This could include trying to:

  • Encourage your child to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds frequently.
  • Ensure your child stays away from anyone who is currently sick.
  • Teach your child to cough or sneeze into their elbow.
  • Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched.

To safeguard against more severe infections that can lead to croup, make sure your child’s
vaccinations are kept up to date. The diphtheria and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccines protect against some of the rarer, yet more dangerous, upper airway infections. Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine available for protection against parainfluenza viruses.

Schedule Your Child’s Appointment Today

Schedule an appointment for your child now if you have concerns about their breathing. At Pediatric Associates of Austin, our team can provide treatment for more severe cases of croup. Your child’s health and well-being are important to us. Contact our office in Austin, TX today!


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