Pediatric patient lies in bed with stuffed toy as parent reads thermometer

Croup is a contagious illness known for its barking cough. Touchpoint Pediatrics helps families in New Jersey with croup treatments. Headquartered in Chatham, Touchpoint pediatricians care for patients throughout Morristown, Summit, Berkeley Heights, Hoboken, and beyond. These providers are all board certified and offer expert medical care for children. They also offer information for parents concerned about croup and other infectious illnesses.

Diagnosing Croup

Croup is diagnosed by its symptoms. It may be caused by several infectious conditions, including parainfluenza RSV, measles, adenovirus, and influenza. Regardless of the infective agent, the result is inflammation of the larynx and trachea. By affecting the upper part of the airway below the vocal cords, this inflammation can cause a hoarse voice and cough characterized by a distinct bark. This is most often found in children under the age of three. Croup-like symptoms may also be caused by allergies.

Croup usually presents during the night or early morning. It can come on suddenly, seemingly without warning, and it can be scary for parents to hear. However, this is a common disease in childhood and can usually be treated at home.

Symptoms of Croup

The most alarming symptom of croup is the barking cough, but there are others, including:

  • Hoarseness
  • Stridor, a husky or raspy sound when breathing
  • Noisy and labored breathing
  • Eye redness

If symptoms become worse, or the young child exhibits these additional signs, call Touchpoint Pediatrics:

  • Trouble swallowing and drooling
  • Neck and chest muscles visibly retract with breathing
  • Crankiness and irritability, especially in babies
  • Dehydration
  • Skin turns bluish or dark around lips, nose, mouth, toenails, fingernails, tongue, and inside cheek
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Lethargy

Croup Treatment

Croup is most often caused by viruses, rather than bacteria. This is why antibiotics are not usually prescribed as a croup treatment at Touchpoint Pediatrics. Usually, this illness runs its course, similar to a cold or mild flu.

Croup affects a child’s ability to breathe, however, and this can be serious. In more severe cases, pediatricians might prescribe a short course of oral steroids. These can reduce swelling and inflammation and help open up the throat area. Often, this helps pediatric patients breathe more easily during the first few nights of croup. Once the child can breathe more comfortably, croup symptoms turn into those of a bad cold. These usually resolve in seven to 10 days.

Several croup treatments can be given at home to help soothe the child, especially when caring for croup in babies. These conservative remedies include:

  • Encouraging calm: Anxiety can make symptoms worse
  • Providing fluids: Warm liquids can help loosen mucus for greater comfort
  • Increasing humidity: Cool mist keeps air moist
  • Elevating head: If the child is old enough, prop up their head with a pillow

Other methods for babies and children include taking the child into a steamy bathroom to take advantage of the moist, warm air. On the other hand, breathing cold air can help open airways, as well. Bundle the child against the cold, and then take them outside. Sit quietly for about 20 minutes.

****Ally – I’m afraid of a parent sticking their child in the freezer… you’d be surprised at some of our parents.

Croup Prevention

As with most viruses, preventing transmission by careful hand washing is highly recommended. Croup is contagious and spreads through droplets caused by coughing and sneezing, as well. A child is contagious for at least three days after the onset of the illness. If they experience fever, consider them contagious until the fever has resolved. Additionally, older children and adults can be affected by the virus causing croup in a younger child, although symptoms are usually not as severe.

Information and Treatment for Viruses at Touchpoint Pediatrics

When a child is ill, parents often need the expertise of a pediatrician to help determine the proper course of action. Annual wellness checks are a good way to keep up to date with a pediatrician at Touchpoint Pediatrics.

These providers also offer online resources for parents to help determine if their child is sick, and they are always available for consultation and appointments. Touchpoint physicians are available on call, including weekends and holidays, for both urgent and non-urgent medical care. Contact Touchpoint Pediatrics to learn more about croup in children or schedule an appointment today.