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Instruction for Home Monitoring and Treatment of Croup

Instruction for Home Monitoring and Treatment of Croup

Croup is a narrowing or swelling of the larynx - voice box - due to a viral infection. It occurs most commonly between the age of 1-4 years and is usually accompanied by signs of a cold and fever. The cough is harsh and sound like a "barking seal." The voice is hoarse.

Ways to Handle a Croup Attack:

  1. Encourage your child to drink plenty of clear liquids such as apple juice, pop, water, or suck on popsicles.
  2. Treat your child's fever with acetaminophen - Tylenol, Tempra - when
  3. Use a cool mist vaporizer in your child's room.
  4. Make sure to check on your child at least every two hours to be certain that the breathing has not become worse.
  5. If your child starts to make louder croupy noises when he or she breathes, try the following measures:
    a. Take your child into the bathroom and close the door. Turn on the hot water in the shower or the tub and let the room fill up with steam. Sit with your child in the steam-filled bathroom, with the water still running, for 10 minutes.
    b. Or, in colder weather you may bundle your child in warm clothes and take him or her outside for approximately 10 minutes.

    If your child continues to make croupy noises after the use of either of these techniques, call your doctor or the emergency room.

  6. The croupy cough should improve over a few days with these measures. Antibiotics do not cure croup.

Signs of Increased Breathing Difficulty:

If you notice any of the following problems, contact your physician or the emergency room immediately:

  1. Your child starts to make wheezing 'squeaky" noises when breathing.
  2. Your child's breathing becomes unusually fast.
  3. Your child drools and refuses to swallow fluids.
  4. Your child refuses to talk or make any sound at all.
  5. Your child's fever is not controlled by appropriate fever control measures.
  6. Your child becomes very restless -- sits up, jumps around, lies down, tries to find a more comfortable position that make it easier to breathe.
  7. Your child appears to be very sick regardless of the degree of breathing.

(Children's Memorial Hospital's emergency room instructions for home croup management.)

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