Croup often runs its course within three to five days. In the meantime, keep your child comfortable with a few simple measures:
- Stay calm. Comfort or distract your child — cuddle, read a book or play a quiet game. Crying makes breathing more difficult.
- Moisten the air. Although there's no evidence of benefit from this practice, many parents believe that humid air helps a child's breathing. You can use a humidifier or sit with the child in a bathroom filled with steam generated by running hot water from the shower.
- Hold your child in an upright position. Sitting upright can make breathing easier. Hold your child on your lap, or place your child in a favorite chair or infant seat.
- Offer fluids. For babies, water, breast milk or formula is fine. For older children, soup or frozen fruit pops may be soothing.
- Encourage rest. Sleep can help your child fight the infection.
- Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. If your child has a fever, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may help. Cough syrup, which doesn't affect the larynx or trachea, isn't likely to relieve your child's cough. Over-the-counter cold preparations are not recommended for children younger than age 5.
Your child's cough may improve during the day, but don't be surprised if it returns at night. You may want to sleep near your child or even in the same room so that you can take quick action if your child's symptoms become severe.
Jan. 30, 2013
- Flint PW, et al. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05283-2..X0001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05283-2&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Nov. 29, 2012.
- Woods CR. Approach to the management of croup. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 29, 2012.
- Zoorob R, et al. Croup: An overview. American Family Physician. 2011;83:1067.
- Russell KF, et al. Glucocorticoids for croup. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001955.pub3/abstract. Accessed Nov. 29, 2012.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 29, 2012.
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