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Friday, September 25, 2020

Croup: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

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Croup refers to as the infection of the upper airway, that obstructs breathing and can be attributed to a barking cough.

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The cough as well as other croup symptoms are the result of noticeable swelling around the windpipe (trachea), voice box (larynx), and bronchial tunes (bronchi).

When coughing, it feels like it is being forced out through a narrow path, and the swollen vocal cord produces a noise that sounds like a seal barking.

Taking in breaths often produces a whistling high-pitched sound known as (strider). Croup is common in younger children, but fortunately, it isn’t serious and most patients can get treatment at home.


Generally, Croup often starts as a cold. A child would typically develop the following if there is enough coughing and inflammation;

Symptoms of croup gets worst during night time, and can last for up to three to six days.

Needing a doctor’s attention

If the symptoms of croup worsens in a child, lasting more than five or six days, or the child isn’t responsive rob home treatment, then it it imperative that you contact your doctor.

Medical attention should immediately be the next option if your child;

  • Has difficultly breathing
  • Unusual breathing pattern
  • Breathing produces high-pitched noises when inhaling and exhaling
  • Develops grayish or bluish skin around the mouth, nose, or fingernails
  • Restless, fatigued, agitated or even anxious
  • Hard time swallowing foods and drinks or starts drooling
  • High-pitched sounds of wheezing sounds when breathing, when child isn’t agitated or crying
  • Minimal alertness
  • Nausea
  • High fever
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting


Acute laryngotracheitisis, also known as viral croup, can be caused by a parainfluenza virus. Other known viral causes may include measles virus, influenza A and B, (RSV) respiratory syncytial virus, enterovirus, adenovirus, reovirus, coxsackievirus, respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus.

Children can get infected by breathing in sneezed viral droplets in the air, that are present on the surface of toys or other places. They could also contract croup by mere contact that then gets to their nose, mouth, or eyes.

Risk factors

Children between the ages of six months and three years old stand the most chance of getting infected. Their small airways exposes them more, making them most susceptible to croup symptoms.

Most cases of croup are benign. Only in a small percentage of children do swelling in the airway occurs to hinder breathing. This also means not all children diagnosed with croup require hospitalization.

However, early detection and treatment is very important. Some factors that may increase the risk of croup are:


  • Family history of croup
  • History if croup
  • Attending a day care
  • Cold seasons
  • Frequent exposure of upper respiratory infections like sinus infections or cold

Preventing croup

You can introduce the same steps you use in preventing common colds and flu to prevent croup.


  • Frequently washing your hands is important.
  • Avoid direct contact with people with cold and flu.
  • Yearly flu vaccination can help prevent croup from manifesting. It is recommended for kids between the ages of 6 months to 5 years.
  • Coughing or sneezing into elbows or a handkerchief should be encouraged in children.
  • Keep you children away from sick people.

Have you treated croup in you child before? What methods did you use? Did you know about croup before now? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Oluwafemi Michael
Oluwafemi Michael is an online Mental Health Therapist, Advocate for Mental Health Awareness, a programmer, and also a content creator from Edo state, Akoko-Edo LG.
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