Croup is an irritation of a baby’s upper airways that causes them to swell. It affects the area below the vocal chords resulting in noisy breathing accompanied by a cough that sounds like a dog’s bark bark. Croup is more commonly seen in boys than in girls and in children between three months to five years of age.
It is important to note that it can be contagious. There are two types of croup, one is viral and is usually caused by any virus that affects the larynx and the trachea. The most common virus to cause this illness is the parainfluenza virus. Viral croup is characterized by a high pitched wheezing noise with a barking cough in the lower airway or a harsh sound, called stridor, when it is located in the upper airway.
Spasmodic croup can start suddenly, usually at night, and the baby may sound like they are gasping for air. It may be due to an allergic reaction or from stomach reflux. Immediate medical attention is necessary for either type of croup especially if the child is showing signs of difficulty breathing, is anxious, breathing very quickly or is making sounds that are unusual when breathing. Additional symptoms of croup include: • Raspy voice • Fever in some cases but not all • Rash • Swollen lymph nodes • Fatigue Prevention of croup is best done by having your child stay away from anyone who is sick. Also frequent hand washing is recommended. Treatment for mild croup include: Keeping the child hydrated Keeping the head elevated Keeping the air moist Keeping the child calm Doctors may prescribe a steroid medication to reduce inflammation or epinephrine to reduce airway swelling.
The diagnosis of croup is made by observing a child breath and listening to their chest. An x-ray may be necessary in helping to see if it this illness or something else. If the symptoms last more than two or three days it is advised to seek medical attention. You can schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center by calling 718-670-5486 or going to an emergency room.
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