We were unfortunate earlier this year to see our daughter suffer from Croup. It is very scary for any parent to watch their child gasping for breath.
Our child is very healthy and very rarely suffers any illness so to see her like this made us realise that as parents some things are out of our control.
What is Croup?
Croup is the common name for a condition called Larnyngotracheitis. This is an infection of the voice box (Larynx) and the main airway to the lungs (Trachea). The infection causes the upper airway to swell which can sometimes make it more difficult to breathe. Very occasionally the airway can swell so much that emergency treatment is required.
Who gets Croup?
Croup usually affects children between 6 months and 6 years. It is possible for the children older than 6 years to develop it but this is much less common.
Symptoms of Croup
Symptoms are usually acute and most severe during the first 3 days and then ease off as your child fights the virus. In most cases children with viral Croup recover after a few days and do not require medical treatment.
COUGH Usually harsh and “barking”, this cough is due to the inflammation and swelling of the vocal cords and may last a further week.
BREATHING SYMPTOMS A “Stridor”, which is the noise you may hear when your child breathes in and is due to the narrowing of the airway by inflammation and swelling.
OTHER SYMPTOMS Runny nose, hoarse voice, sore throat, fever and general aches and pains.
Symptoms are often worse at night particularly the cough and stridor.
Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. Young children find Croup distressing so it will help if you sit them upright to enable them to breathe more easily and provide a calm, restful environment.
Avoid all smoky environments. Sit them in a steamy bathroom, use a humidifier in the room or dry your washing over a radiator. Give Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for sore throat/fever. Try to get your child to rest as much as possible.
GP & HOSPITAL TREATMENTS
A Steroid called “Dexamethasone” may be given orally which should reduce swelling and inflammation of the airway. This may be given for another couple of days. If in hospital, your child will be monitored overnight/day. If the Croup is more severe the “Adrenaline” or a steroid called “Budesonide” may also be required. These are given via an oxygen nebuliser (like a space mask)
WHAT TO DO AFTER DISCHARGE FROM HOSPITAL
Encourage oral fluids to maintain hydration and ease a sore throat (avoid just water). Administer Paracetamol or Ibuprofen as needed.
WHEN TO SEEK FURTHER HELP
• The Stridor returns. • Drooling from the mouth and unable to swallow. • Blueness around the mouth.
Always seek medical advice or call 999 for any type of breathing emergency.
Meredith was 2 years 7 months when she had Croup, she hadn’t been ill throughout the day and went to bed as normal but woke a few hours later coughing, we did try the steamy bathroom before I called NHS24 (Scotland) for advice.
They decided that we needed an ambulance and so we were admitted to hospital (Children’s Ward at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle) where she was given Paracetamol and the steroid Dexamethasone.
We were kept in overnight for observation and discharged at lunchtime the next day. Meredith had to have a further dose of the steroid that night but fortunately that was all she needed.
It probably took her about a week to fully recover from her ordeal, she does however still ask to go back to hospital because she liked the playroom there, and I on the other hand would like to never see it again.