Croup Treatment in Atlanta, GA
Parents of newborns tend to get paranoid about their baby’s every little sniffle – but that may turn out to be a good thing. If your baby or toddler has cold or flu symptoms with a loud, rasping, barking cough or noisy, labored breathing, he or she may have croup.
Croup is an infection that causes swelling in the upper respiratory tract. Though rarely severe or fatal, it can cause breathing difficulty, high fever, and anxiety. Getting diagnosed is important so your physician will confirm or rule out croup and prevent further complications.
What are the symptoms of croup?
Croup symptoms are similar to those of common colds and the flu, but it causes a distinct hoarse cough that sounds a lot like a high-pitched seal or dog bark. Your child’s voice will also be raspy and hoarse, especially when he or she is crying.
Other common symptoms include:
- labored, difficult breathing
- a noisy, high-pitched sound while breathing (stridor)
- difficulty swallowing
- anxiety and agitation
- fast breathing
The barking croup cough and high-pitched wheezing will develop within one to three days of these flu-like symptoms appearing.
While croup in toddlers is almost never fatal, severe cases can interfere with your child’s airways and prevent breathing. In these rare cases, your child may find breathing very difficult or nearly impossible. If your child experiences extreme breathing difficulty or if you notice your child’s skin turning grayish or bluish around the nose, mouth, or fingernails, take your child to the nearest emergency room immediately.
Another type called spasmodic croup typically appears suddenly and during the middle of the night. Your child may wake up with a croup cough, gasping for air. Fever isn’t common with this type of croup.
What causes croup?
In most cases, croup is caused by a parainfluenza (flu) virus. This virus is contagious, especially during the first few days or until the fever goes away. Spasmodic croup results from an allergy or acid reflux from the stomach.
When someone with the croup virus sneezes or coughs, liquid droplets carrying the virus travel through the air. If these droplets touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, you may get infected too. You can also become infected if you touch a surface that someone with croup also touched, like a doorknob or keyboard.
Anyone can get the croup virus, but it typically affects children between 6 months and 3 years of age, the highest-risk age being 24 months. It’s also more common in boys than in girls. The virus is most common in late fall and early winter—about the same time as the annual flu season.
How is croup diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will listen your child’s breathing with a stethoscope and examine his or her throat. In some cases, x-ray or other imaging tests are used to diagnose or rule out croup or other similar illnesses.
How is croup treated?
Most cases of croup are mild and require little or no special treatment. Mild cases are managed like a bad cold or the flu: offering plenty of fluids, monitoring the fever, administering over-the-counter (OTC) medications your medical provider approves, and providing lots of love and comfort. Side effects of OTC drugs include nausea and dizziness.
Croup can make breathing difficult, which understandably can make your child nervous, anxious, or even panicked. Helping your child remain calm and quiet is very important because excitement can make breathing even more difficult.
These home remedies can help relieve painful symptoms:
- humidifying the air to help reduce coughing
- placing your child’s face in front of the open freezer for two minutes for cough relief
- elevating your child’s head to make breathing easier—never use pillows if your baby is 12 months old or younger
- rubbing essential oils like coconut, lavender, and green tea on your child’s chest
- inhaling thyme, cinnamon, and clove essential oils in a steam tent
- giving elderberry syrup to relieve congestion
- giving Vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc supplements
When fighting croup make sure to avoid:
- sugar and sweets
- processed foods
- meats and shellfish
Eating warm, soft foods like soup is important for comfort and easier swallowing. Drinking fluids can also loosen mucus and take pressure off their vocal cords. Soothing foods include:
- lemon juice
- leafy greens
Homeopathic medications to treat the symptoms (especially at night) include:
- hepar sulph
- arsenicum album
If your child’s symptoms persist longer than three to five days or grow worse, a steroid (dexamethasone or epinephrine) may be given to reduce airway inflammation. This treatment usually gives relief within a few hours. Common side effects of dexamethasone are vision changes, weight gain, and insomnia, and side effects of epinephrine include irregular heartbeat, sweating, and weakness.
In very severe cases, your child will be admitted to the hospital for IV fluid replacement, symptom monitoring, and breathing assistance. However, these instances are extremely uncommon. Most children can be treated through primary care, with less than 5% requiring hospitalization, among which 1-3% require ventilator support in intensive care.
Reserve Your Appointment Now
Though many children come down with colds and the flu during peak seasons, it’s important to know the signs of croup so you can get prompt treatment. To speak with a croup specialist today in Atlanta, call (770) 674-6311 or contact Dr. Gail Ravello online.
Natural Medical Solutions Wellness Center
Address1130 Upper Hembree Rd.
Roswell, GA 30076
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Wed: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Thu: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm