Croup is the term we use to refer to the effect on a child (usually younger than 5 years) of a viral infection which makes their upper airway around their vocal cords swell. Any virus can do it although one called paraflu’ is usually blamed. The child usually has a slightly runny nose, a slight increase in temperature, a cough that sounds like a sealion or dog’s bark and a noise (medical term: stridor) on breathing in. These symptoms nearly always start at night, the most frightening time for their parents. Try to keep calm around your child as increased distress in the child leads to their airway narrowing further.
Most children cope well with mild symptoms and do not need any treatment. The symptoms wear off after a day or so. However, if your child has any of the following signs, you need to seek medical attention:
There is a very good parent information sheet with advice on caring for your child with mild croup at home (from Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital) here.