Family Health


The Best Treatment Options for Croup

young beautiful kid girl feeling unwell and coughing as symptom for cold or bronchitis. Healthcare concept.

The Best Treatment Options for Croup

It can be terrifying and worrying when your child has croup. Croup occurs when the upper airway becomes narrow due to an infection, making it more difficult to breathe. Adults can also get croup; however, it is rare. Babies and children are more susceptible to croup because their tracheas (windpipes) are smaller. As we get older, our windpipes get bigger, so the swelling does not affect our breathing as much. The cough also causes a barking sound because the air is forced through a narrow passageway. To diagnose croup, your healthcare provider will closely observe your child’s breathing, examine the throat, and listen to the chest with a stethoscope. If needed, certain tests or X-rays will be done to exclude the possibility of other illnesses. Croup can last anywhere from 3–5 days. Let’s explore the best treatment options for croup.

1. Hydration

It is very important to make sure that your child stays hydrated. Warm drinks are better than cold ones, so warm apple juice or warm water works best. When coughing for babies aged 3 months to 1 year, give them one to three teaspoons of warm fluids four times per day. If your child is older than 1 year, give them as much warm liquid as needed. This relaxes the airway and helps loosen the phlegm. For older children, you can also offer them ice pops and soup.

2. Comfort Measures and Rest

african american mother singing lullaby for little daughter before going to Sleep on bed at home. black mom story telling to girl in bedroom. sleeping child in parent embrace . kid hug Teddy bear. The best treatment for croup.

Croup causes fatigue, so it is best to encourage your child to relax and take a nap. Resting can help fight infections. When a child is crying, this can make the swelling worse, making it harder to breathe. It is important to provide comfort measures. Make a bed on the sofa and put on their favorite movie. Or quietly tell them a story.

3. Cool Mist Humidifier

If the air is dry, use a cool mist humidifier. Allow your child to breathe in the air to help ease the symptoms. You can purchase one at your local drugstore or on Amazon. They are usually priced between $16 and $50. If you don’t have a cool mist humidifier, let your child breathe outside for a few minutes or open the door or window. Additionally, you can allow them to stand in front of the open freezer door for 5–10 minutes. 

4. Fever Care

Should your child have a fever, place a cool cloth on the forehead, or you can give them an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicine such as Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Mortin, or Advil. Avoid giving your child aspirin, as there is a small risk they may develop Reye’s syndrome when they have a viral illness.

5. Steam Treatment Option For Croup

Young woman doing steam inhalation at home to soothe and open nasal passages. The best treatment options for croup.

Steam treatment is easy to do, and it can help loosen phlegm. You can either fill a bowl with hot water and drape a towel over the child’s head and allow them to breathe in the steam. Additionally, you can fill the bathroom or shower with steam and let your child breathe in the air for 10–15 minutes.

6. Comfortable Seating Position

Dramatic caucasian infant sitting straight up in a high chair looking forward on a plain white background. The Best treatment options for croup.

Help your child sit in a comfortable upright position or high chair, and hold them on your lap. Sitting upright can help make breathing better.

7. Medicines

Depending on the severity of your child’s croup, your healthcare provider may prescribe the following:

  • Corticosteroid: This is taken orally, and symptoms typically improve within a couple of hours. These pills may need to be taken for seven days. Alternatively, a single dose of dexamethasone will be given in one dose because the effects last longer.
  • Epinephrine: If your child has more severe symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe epinephrine to reduce swelling. It is inhaled via a nebulizer and acts quickly; however, it wears off fast. Your child may need to be observed in the hospital for approximately several hours in case he or she needs a second dose.
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