Croup is a spasmodic barking cough and hoarseness caused by inflammation of the upper respiratory tract organs such as the larynx and the trachea. Children 2-4 years are more susceptible to spasmodic croup and sometimes occur among children 5-6 years old.
Spasmodic croup is caused by infection or can be caused by an allergic reaction. It can happen suddenly without fever. It is called spasmodic because the inflammation of the larynx is sudden and happens at night with mild common cold. Spasmodic croup is also caused by a virus which also causes influenza and common cold and this condition is usually common during winter months. In addition, men are more susceptible to this condition than women.
Symptoms of spasmodic croup
- Coughing is sometimes severe at night or when the child is crying or excited and happens with loud and raspy breathing. Coughing is similar to the barking of a seal.
- A mild runny nose and hoarseness for a few hours
- The affected child will have a slight fever when the voice box and upper airway organs becomes inflamed
- There is difficulty in breathing
- Flaring nostrils
- Breathing faster than normal
- Restlessness and agitation
- The skin, lips and fingernails becomes bluish in color due to lack of oxygen in the blood.
- There is an abnormal sucking in of the chest and there are abdominal muscles or retractions when the affected child is struggling when taking a breath.
- In the morning, the spasms will totally disappear and only mild hoarseness and loose cough will remain, but sometimes the attack can continue again the next night.
Treatment and home remedies for spasmodic croup
- Make the affected child comfortable. The child should be monitored closely, since he/she can have difficulty in breathing anytime.
- Parents should sleep near the child during night.
- Let the child stay outside in a cool atmosphere.
- Let the child stay in a steamy bathroom to help in minimizing the severity of croup.
- Install a cool humidifier near the affected child since it is helpful in minimizing the swelling of the larynx and also helps to lessen the symptoms of spasmodic croup.
- The child should drink plenty of fluids since this helps in thinning out the mucus that has accumulated in the nose and throat as well as promote easy breathing.
- Avoid giving the child milk, tea or coffee since these can make the condition worse.
- Minimize the anxiety and crying of the child by doing activities such as playing games or telling stories.
If the child is very uncomfortable and the symptoms are severe, it is time to seek medical help immediately.
Ways in preventing viral infections that causes croup
- Wash hands properly especially after blowing the nose and also wash hands thoroughly after taking care of a person who has a cold, cough or sore throat.
- Any member of the household suffering from respiratory infection must separate his/her eating and drinking utensils from the other members of the household. Wash the utensils and glasses thoroughly using hot and soapy water.
- Wash toys with soap and water as well as dispose of dirty tissues.