Croup, which is marked by a harsh, repetitive cough similar to the noise of a seal barking, can be scary for both children and their parents. After all, attacks of croup may jar your children awake at night and leave them gasping for breath.
The harsh, barking cough of croup is the result of swelling around the vocal cords (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). When the cough reflex forces air through this narrowed passage, the vocal cords vibrate with a barking noise. Because children have small airways to begin with, those younger than age 5 are most susceptible to having more symptoms with croup. Croup is most common in children age 5 and younger — particularly those who were born prematurely. Because of their smaller airways, signs and symptoms are typically most severe in children age 3 and younger.
The classic sign of croup is a loud, harsh, barking cough — which often comes in bursts at night. Your child’s breathing may be labored or noisy. Fever and a hoarse voice are common, too.
Most cases of croup can be treated at home with a few simple self-care measures. However, you should seek immediate medical attention if your child: