How to Treat Croup: First Aid Treatment

Croup is a common condition that causes inflammation of the windpipe in babies and young children. This inflammation causes problems with the child's breathing and a characteristic barking cough. Croup is most common in children ages three months to six years, but it can occur in older children too. The most common cause of croup is a viral infection. Mild croup often improves with steroid treatment prescribed by a medical professional; however, severe cases may require hospital admission and treatment to support the child's breathing. Always seek medical advice if you are concerned about a child's breathing.

Medical Terminology

The medical term for croup is laryngotracheobronchitis.

Signs and Symptoms of Croup

◾ Barking cough, often described as "seal like"

◾ Hoarse voice

◾ Difficulty in breathing

◾ Symptoms of a cold: runny nose, sore throat, high temperature (fever)

The symptoms of croup tend to be worse during the night or when the child becomes upset.

First Aid Treatment for Croup

1. Provide reassurance to the child and keep her calm to reduce the work of breathing.

2. Position her so that she is sitting upright.

3. Give regular fluids to avoid dehydration.

4. Seek medical advice; the child may require steroid treatment to reduce the inflammation in the windpipe.

5. Call EMS if the child appears distressed or turns blue or floppy or if you are concerned her breathing is deteriorating.

What About Steam?

In the past, parents were advised to place their child in a steamfilled environment to relieve the symptoms of croup. This is no longer advised as research has shown that steam does not improve symptoms of croup. In addition, there have been reported cases of children being badly burned from prolonged steam exposure by parents trying to treat croup.