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What is Croup? Prevention, Signs & When to go to the ER

What is Croup?

Prevention, Signs & When to go to the ER

If you notice your child suddenly develops a barking cough, has trouble breathing, or makes a whistling sound when breathing, it could be croup.

Most cases of this illness are mild, but the condition can be serious, especially in infants and young children.

What Is Croup?

Croup is a respiratory infection caused by different viruses. The illness causes the upper airways to swell, making breathing difficult.

The condition usually affects children under five and can last between five and six days. However, complications such as ear infections and pneumonia can happen.

Way to Prevent the Spread of Croup

Like other viral respiratory infections, croup can spread through physical contact or the air. The following tips can help prevent the spread of croup in your household and community.

  • Wash your hands before and after caring for your baby or young child
  • Wash toys frequently, especially if your children share them with others
  • Urge your child to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid sending your child to school or daycare if they are ill or when the school informs you of an outbreak
  • Teach your children the proper way to wash their hands and when to wash them
  • Throw away used tissues

Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.

What are the Symptoms of Croup?

At first, your child may have cold-like symptoms like a runny nose, congestion, and a slight cough. But over time, the cough worsens, sounding like a barking seal. Their voice can become hoarse, and they can also start making a high-pitch, wheezing sound when they breathe in.

The loud cough and wheezing sounds when breathing result from inflammation in the voice box, windpipe, and upper airways, which make it hard to breathe.

Croup can also cause your child to breathe very fast or have what is known as retractions; this happens when the skin pulls tight around their ribs.

In severe cases, the sick child may look pale or have a bluish color around their mouth due to a lack of oxygen; if you notice this, please call 911 immediately.

Croup can cause redness around the eyes, a rash, and swollen lymph nodes in babies. In addition, some children may develop a fever.

Symptoms of croup tend to worsen at night or when your child becomes upset or is crying.

Warning Signs of When to Call 911 or Head to the Nearest ER

Thankfully, most cases of croup are mild, and you can safely treat them at home. However, always listen to your intuition if you think your child’s illness is serious.

The following are signs of an emergency, and you should seek medical help for them as soon as possible:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Fast or labored breathing
  • Retractions (when the skin around the ribcage sucks inward while breathing)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • High-pitched noise when taking breaths
  • Unusual paleness or bluish color around their mouth

Dehydration is another danger associated with croup. Please head to the nearest ER if you notice your child is not urinating or if they have very dark urine.

Other warning signs of dehydration include:

  • Your baby sheds no tears when crying
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken eyes
  • Exhaustion

If you feel your child needs immediate medical help to improve their breathing, don’t hesitate to bring them to the nearest Altus Emergency Center. We have special pediatric examing rooms and qualified medical staff to care for your baby.

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