Croup is usually the result of a viral infection and it affects babies and young children between 3 months and 3 years and rarely occurs after the age of 5 years.

Croup is an inflammation of the upper airway in which the voice box is narrowed by swelling due to an upper respiratory tract infection. In severe cases the airway may close totally.

Another severe form of croup is epiglottitis (inflammation of the epiglottis just above the larynx), which is generally caused by a bacterial infection. This condition may also lead to total airway obstruction and generally requires a stay in hospital under close supervision until the child starts to recover.

Croup is usually worse at night or when the outside air temperature falls and the child reacts to a sudden cold change in the weather. On some the child may seem to be fully recovered, only to deteriorate again in the evening.

Symptoms and signs – Not all may be present

  • a high-pitched sound when breathing
  • a harsh, barking cough
  • blueness around the lips
  • fast breathing or difficulty breathing
  • sucking-in of the ribs when breathing in
  • anxiety and distress

How you can help

1.    Relieve the breathing difficulty

  • reassure and calm the child.
  • avoid rapid changes in the surrounding termperature
  • keep warm and give frequent fluids

2.    Obtain medical advice and care

  • see your GP or call Healthline if the child is not getting better or is getting worse

If the child is struggling to breathe or their lips go blue– call 111 for an ambulance.

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