You hear something like a bark, and you may think it is your dog, but then you remember you don’t have a dog; next thing you realize, it’s your child. I’m sure you are frantic at this moment. How and why is your child barking? It is all because of Croup. Croup is an upper airway disease that affects many children yearly. It comes from a virus called the parainfluenza virus. Croup can be treated and go away, but the virus does not leave the body. Other viruses and bacteria can trigger it. If you notice your child has croup, make a doctor’s appointment so they can get treated right away.
Croup is a common issue for Pediatricians. It is something they see all the time. Any child can get croup, and the problem is that it is very contagious. Any mucus related actions like spitting, coughing or sneezing spreads croup. Croup primarily affects those between the ages of 3 months and five years old. As a parent, you might be worried that you will get croup too. This is a virus that only affects children. Adults cannot get croup, but a child can spread it as a cold, or something more serious like laryngitis to adults.
Croup is not considered life-threatening, although, it does affect a child’s lungs. It is not as serious as pneumonia and children rarely have life-threatening problems from it. It can be serious if your child has asthma because it can hinder a child’s breathing; this is why a child gets a barky cough. The airways are not open, and the windpipe is affected. In croup, there is swelling throughout the respiratory system. The swelling starts in the throat with the vocal cords then travels down to the windpipe and finally the bronchi. The bark comes from that swelling mixed with airflow. When a child breathes in, you will also notice whistling as air tries to enter the lungs. Breathing is not cut off, but it can be labored.
As stated earlier, croup is very contagious. Most children get it from their daycare and things like that. All it takes is one child who has it to sneeze or cough. That mucus travels. It may land on toys, or even the tab le and chairs. When another child touches it, unknowingly, they put their hands in their mouth, nose, and ears. Now they have the virus. Although, it is common for children between 3 months and five years to get the virus, the prime age of transfer is two years old. At 2, children are busy. They are running around and getting into everything. They like to touch a lot of things and put their hands all over their face and in their mouth. It is hard to catch them and keep their hands clean 24-7, but staying away from those with croup is a start.
The main symptom of croup is a barky cough. Normally croup does not start out this way. At first, it will seem as if the child has a cold. As the virus progresses, swelling increases leading to that nasty cough. The child will be extremely agitated and uncomfortable. They may have trouble sleeping laying flat. Sitting up will help the child sleep better because their air passage is a bit more open. Fever sometimes accompanies croup. Although their breathing is loud, it is not being hindered. You do not have to worry about your child not being able to breathe at all. These symptoms can last up to about five days. When you notice any of these symptoms, it is time to go to the doctor.
Some parents take their children to the emergency room, rather than the doctor’s office. If your child is struggling to breathe, you should take them to the emergency room to get immediate care. If the symptoms are not that bad, you can take care of them at home without seeing a doctor. If you do go to the doctor’s office, they will prescribe a steroid to help open the airways. There are different types of steroids, but Dexamethasone is most commonly used because it lasts much longer than the rest. Epinephrine is one used typically in the case of severe allergic reactions, but it is also helpful with croup. The problem with epinephrine is that it wears off very quickly. If the croup is very severe, the child will stay in the hospital for observation. Usually after a few days, they are back to normal.
Croup is not something you want to see your child go through. A barky cough and wheezing may be more painful for you than them. It is a tough situation, but not as serious as you may think. For most children, after a few days of rest, return to normal. If symptoms last more than five days, you should seek medical attention. A steroid injection will help open up those lungs and improve breathing. Protecting your child against croup is hard. Keeping their hands clean and keeping them away from anyone with croup are the best things you can do to prevent the disease.
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