What is Croup?
Croup is a common viral infection that affects children between the ages of 6 months and three years. The virus causes the vocal chords to swell and results in a "barking cough" and a deep chesty noise when inhaling. Because the virus affects the vocal chords which are the narrowest part of the airways, the constriction may cause difficulties breathing.
What causes Croup?
Croup is a common infection that is a result of one of the cold viruses – causing the larynx and trachea to swell. It can last up to 6 days and is most common in winter or fall. Croup may affect children under 3 more severely and tends to be worse at night.
Most cases of croup are mild and can be treated at home, if your child’s symptoms don’t seem to be improving, call your doctor – they may prescribe drugs to open your child’s airways. If you are unsure as to whether your child has croup – consult your physician.
How is Croup diagnosed?
The most common symptoms of croup include: fever, hoarseness and a barking, hacking cough. It may also cause a stridor (crowing noise) when the child breathes in.
Watch your child closely. If he or she shows the following signs – or if you are worried – consult your doctor immediately:
- Drooling or has trouble swallowing.
- Skin is blue or turns darker.
- Breathing doesn’t sound better after mist treatment.
- Cranky or uncomfortable.
- Becomes more difficult and upset
Help and treatment for Croup
If your child seems to have a mild attack of croup, try the ‘mist treatment’. You can do this at home: Place a warm wet washcloth over your child’s nose and mouth and have them breath through it. Run hot water in your shower, with the bathroom door and windows closed until the room is fogged up with steam. Once the room is full of steam, sit in the humidity with your child for 10 minutes. In cooler months, taking your child outside for a few minutes may help too.
Your doctor may prescribe OTC decongestant medicines or medication to treat a fever, however generally cough medications are not recommended. They can have upsetting side effects such as irritability, restlessness, insomnia, or drowsiness depending on which is used. Some medications can also dry out mucus membranes, leaving children vulnerable to secondary conditions.
When it comes to respiratory complaints natural herbal and homeopathic remedies have long been regarded as effective medications – safe enough for children. Homeopathic ingredients work to address the acute symptoms: Kali. mur is beneficial for bronchial complaints while Mag phos. is nature’s anti-spasmodic and relaxant.
Rumex crispus is particularly effective when addressing coughs brought about by temperature changes in the air. Homeopathic remedies are advantageous when treating children as they have no side effects and cannot be habit-forming or addictive.
Tips for Croup
- Hydrate. Make sure that your child gets plenty of rest and plenty to drink. When your child has a croupy cough, it is very important to increase the amount of liquids that he or she drinks.
- Night Comfort. At night, run a cool-mist vaporizer to keep the air from being too dry. Another tip is to elevate the head of the bed that can make your child more comfortable.
- Never give aspirin. If your child has a fever, give a safe medication, but never aspirin – as it has been associated with the development of a rare condition known as Reye’s syndrome.