KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Croup is is one of the most common respiratory illnesses that sends young children to the hospital. It’s marked by a distinctive bark-like cough that won’t go away. Croup is most dangerous for babies and toddlers because it can cut off their air supply.
Dr. Katy Stordahl, emergency room physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, explained that croup is a viral infection in the upper airway around the vocal cords and windpipe. Swelling in the area causes the cough. Kids under five get it most often because their airways are smaller.
Stuffy or runny nose and fever can accompany the barking cough, high-pitched whistling sound when breathing in, and a struggle to breathe.
Croup is spread through coughing, sneezing and respiratory secretions. Children with croup should be considered contagious for about three days after the illness begins or until the fever is gone.
If the symptoms are mild, it can be treated at home with a cool-mist humidifier. You may also run a hot shower to create a steam filled bathroom and sit with the child in the steam for about 20 minutes.
You should bring your child to the ER if he or she is struggling to breathe, has a pale or bluish color around the mouth, you can see the child’s skin around the ribs pulling in when they are gasping for breath, or if the child is having trouble swallowing.