Croup is a barking cough that afflicts young children particularly while they are crying. Croup is the inflammation of the airways that is caused by a virus or other methods of infection. This croup itself is not an illness, but rather is a symptom of a series or set or illnesses that can be over looked if the barking cough was not present.
Who Can Get Croup?
Most individuals who get croup are children ranging in age from three months to five years. However, it is possible for children younger or older to develop the condition due to the inflammation in their throats. Often the condition is prevented as the child ages due to his or her ability to express throat irritation before it gets so bad as to cause the barking cough.
Causes of Croup
The cause of croup is most often a virus that causes inflammation of the throat. The most common viruses that cause the condition include the parainfluenza virus, the adenovirus, the respiratory syncytial virus, influenza virus, and the measles. Allergies and bacterium have also been known to cause croup, although these are less common causes of the condition and must be treated differently than the virus causes.
Symptoms of Croup
Since croup is not a condition in itself, but is rather a symptom, the croup itself is the symptom. This symptom is characterized by a harsh barking sound in the cough of the child. This bark is most often noticed when the child is crying for some reason and often resembles the bark made by seals or seal lions. Other symptoms that often accompany the barking cough include wheezing and a lack of speech due to the inflammation of the throat.
Alternative Treatments for Croup
Since most croup cases are mild in severity, over the counter treatments are often used. These treatments include ointments such as Vick’s or other menthol creams. These often are used to open up the airways. Other over the counter treatments include humidifiers to keep the humidity up in a room and lessen the chances of the airways becoming further inflamed or irritated.
Other methods of breaking croup attacks include hot shower exposure and cold air exposure. In the hot shower method, the shower is used as a sauna, in that the shower is running but people sit outside of it, taking in the warm, humid air. This method can be very effective when used in ten minute increments. Cuddling or reading to the child can limit the stress that is on the child during such a treatment. Cold or cool air exposure is another very effective alternative treatment. This method of treatment relies on the idea that the inflamed tissues will cool and shrink when exposed to cool air. Since most croup cases occur during the fall or winter seasons, this is often achieved simply by going outside or driving with the windows rolled down.
When is Medicinal Treatment Necessary for Croup?
Medical treatment becomes necessary if the croup does not dispel on its own over a short period or if the condition worsens. If the condition comes to a point where the child is unable to breathe effectively, then medical treatment is urgently needed. It is recommended that the child be looked at by a doctor as soon as the condition appears to ensure that the condition is not going to be bacterial in manner or that there is no serious condition being hidden by the cough.
In most cases, the croup can be treated at home with no medical intervention needed. However, in some sever cases, medical attention becomes necessary. In these cases, the doctors most often prescribe steroids to help heal the inflammation of the tissues. Other medications include antibiotics and antivirus medication. In very rare occurrences, hospitalization can be necessary.