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


on Aug 13, 2012 at 1:39 PM

It can be very scary, my two kids had it as babies and I had to take them to the ER.  My son had it really bad that he was hospitalized because he was also an asthmatic so it became worst and complicated.  So don't take it for granted that its not life threatening because it can get complicated with other things, such as asthma or bronchitis....I always say its better to be safe then sorry just  take them to your pediatrician or ER to have peace of mind.


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on Aug 22, 2012 at 1:32 PM
My two boys have been getting croup since they were babies, now they are 6 and 9 and they both get it at least twice a year! I hate it and I never get used to it, it always freaks me out. Its the loud coughing and seeing ur child having difficulty breathing and it always happens at 3 am! Thankfully once I take them to the er with the cool air they get better but the steroid shot they give them works the best and keeping them over for a few hours for observation just to b safe...
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on Oct 17, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Im a first time mom and reading this article makes me feel much better.... my son who is just 8 months, started with fever and follow by sneezing... one night all of the sudden he started having that horrible cough which still gives me goosebumps and followed by vomiting really scared the hell out of me....i must say there is nothing like going to the hospital.... I felt much better once he got his steroid shot... breathing normally and knowing that im not alone...gracias por el articulo...
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