Why croup can be so scary and what you can do to relieve the symptoms

My youngest son has been getting over a bout of croup this week. Although I don't consider myself an expert in this area, this is not the first time he gets it, which means I knew what it was as soon as I heard him cough. You see, one of the characteritic symptoms of croup is a loud cough that often sounds like the barking of a seal. But when you're not familiar with the symptoms, croup can be pretty scary. Mostly because it comes about so suddenly and usually at night. 

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I'll never forget the first time my daughter, who must have been about 3-years-old at the time, got it. I remember she had a mild cold, but she seemed fine when I put her to sleep that fateful night. And then, as it tends to happen with many respiratory illnesses, she woke up crying in the middle of the night and what I remember the most was her loud cough. 

Since my husband suffered from asthma pretty much his entire childhood, he kept on saying that maybe it was an asthma attack. But there was no whizzing, rather the raspy cough--which we now know is characterist of croup. The weirdest thing is that she didn't even have a fever, but she was obviously having trouble breathing and I was too freaked out to wait until the morning to call the pediatrician. So my husband ended up taking her to the ER. 

Once there, she was quickly diagnosed with croup and given some steroids to help open her airways and reduce inflamation. Incredibly, by the time they got to the hosptial, Vanessa's coughing had already gotten much better. It turns out that one of the best things you can do when your child has croup is to take her outside for a few minutes so she can breath cool air. This only works in the cooler months, of course. Another option is to expose him to moist air by using a cool-mist humidifier or creating a steam-filled bathroom by running a hot shower and then sitting there with your child for about 10 mintutes. 

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Although croup is contagious, it's rarely severe or life threatening. The majority of the cases are mild and children can be treated at home.

Have your kids ever had croup? Did you know what it was? How did you deal with it? Share your thoughts with us by leaving us a comment below.

Image via ryancboren/flickr 

Topics: healthy kids  tips  latino health