Your little one is destined to pick up plenty colds throughout his lifetime – particularly in the early years; and sometimes, the innocuous but annoying viruses will progress into something significantly more aggravating, like croup. Here’s how to spot the signs of croup and what to do if your child gets it.
Croup is prevalent amongst under-fives, and is, quite simply, a very common viral throat infection – although its distinctive telltale symptom, the barking cough, can make many a parent panic.
It’s the inflammation of the throat and windpipe that is responsible for the harsh, seal-bark coughing – along with noisy breathing, known as stridor.
The swelling of the airways makes it especially difficult to breathe at night (when the mercury drops and we turn up the heating – causing dry air). Coughing attacks can last a good few hours; so expect your tot to suffer from poor sleep until the condition clears, usually after a few days. However, if your child does not appear to be improving after such time, or exhibits any of the following, contact your doctor immediately:
• High fever
• Having trouble swallowing
• Breathing quickly, or having difficulty breathing
• Won’t lie down
• Very restless, upset, or sweating
• Blue lips
• Noisy breathing (a snoring sound on exhalation)
For croup symptoms that are mild, ensure your child gets plenty of fluids and rest, and give
paracetamol (as directed by your GP). Antibiotics are ineffectual for croup as it is viral, but for severe cases, doctors will usually prescribe oral or inhaled steroids – or administer nebulised adrenalin to bring down windpipe swelling.