Croup

(Laryngotracheobronchitis)

Definition

Croup is swelling in the voice box and wind pipe. The swelling can make it difficult to breathe. This can cause a barking cough.
Upper Respiratory System in a Child
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Causes

Croup is caused by viral infections such as:

Risk Factors

Croup occurs most often in children between age 6 months and 3 years. This is because young children have a smaller airway. Airways become wider as children grow. This decreases the chance of croup in older children and adults.Factors that may increase the risk of croup include:

Symptoms

Croup often begins with symptoms similar to an upper respiratory infection. The symptoms can come on suddenly and often at night. The following is a list of common croup symptoms:
  • Cough spasms
  • Cough that sounds like a barking seal
  • Hoarseness
  • Fever
  • A harsh, high-pitched sound when your child breathes in, especially when crying or upset
  • Trouble breathing, especially breathing in
  • Poor appetite and fluid intake
More serious symptoms of croup that may require immediate medical attention include:
  • Bluish color of nails, lips, or around the mouth—This is an absolute emergency. Call 911 .
  • Decreased alertness—This is also a serious symptom. Call 911 .
  • Restlessness or agitation—This can be due to dangerous lack of oxygen.
  • Struggling for each breath
  • Harsh, high-pitched breath sounds even at rest
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Inability to speak due to trouble breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat; chest pain
  • Rash or hives
  • High fever

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