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What is Croup?

Winter is here and along with it comes snow, wind, and illness. Croup is a common occurrence throughout the community. It is caused by a virus and affects the lungs of young individuals. How do you know if your child just has a cold or if it is croup? What is done to treat this illness? Read ahead for details on this illness.

What is croup?
Croup is an infection involving the trachea which is the main airway into the lungs. Parainfluenza virus type I usually causes this illness. It generally affects infants and toddlers up to age 3. It is characterized by a deep hoarse cough that sounds like a seal bark. It is often associated with clear runny nose and fever as well.

Could my child have this?
If your child's cough sounds like a seal bark, he or she may have croup. If your child is having trouble breathing, go to an emergency department immediately. If your child is not having trouble breathing, seek care from your primary care provider. Generally adults are not affected by this or if they do get the virus, they generally have symptoms similar to the common cold.

How is it treated?
Most children who suffer from croup improve without any intervention. It is often treated with supportive cares like any other viral upper respiratory infection. This may include a vaporizer or humidifier in the child's room, Tylenol or ibuprofen for the fever and staying home from school or daycare. In severe cases of croup, steroids and nebulizers are used which are helpful for symptomatic treatment. The gold standard of treatment for croup is injectable dexamethasone, a steroid. Over the counter cough medications are generally contraindicated in young children so check with your medical provider before giving these medications to your child.

Croup is a viral illness that is common right now in children. If you think your child may have this illness, seek care from your primary provider today. Also, if your child is infected with this virus, stay home as it is highly contagious.

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