Friday, September 27, 2013


We are starting to see patients in the office suffering from a very common illness that seems to have a spike in the fall.

The official name is Laryngotracheobronchitis, but for obvious reasons it is simply referred to as Croup. Much of the time Croup is caused by a virus.
It tends to afflict patients between the ages of 6 months- 6 years, but anyone can get it.
This illness causes inflammation in the upper airway. The air passages in the throat are narrowed due to the swelling and this often leads to breathing that is noisy and sometimes labored.

Croup is quite contagious. Usually kids will start showing some symptoms within a day or two after the exposure. Some children who are exposed will simply end up with the symptoms of the common cold.
Others get the classic croupy cough.

There are actually two distinct presentations.
Many patients will start off with a cold, sore throat, hoarse voice and mild fever. This progresses to the deep barky cough. The kids may be sick for 4- 7 days, but even when they are mostly better, it is quite normal for the cough to linger for a week or so.

Others have what is called acute spasmodic croup

With this, it is typical for the symptoms to start very suddenly in the middle of the night.
Your child may have seemed fine when they went to sleep but then they wake up in the wee hours sounding like a seal. This can freak out a lot of even the most hardy parent.

Your job is to keep your cool and do your best to keep your child from getting any more agitated.
Head into the bathroom and run a hot shower. Sit there in a steamy room (not in the actual shower) and sing softly, see if you can get them calm.
This type of croup usually lasts about three days.
The kids seem pretty okay during the day but the cough comes back at night. 
Running a humidifier during the night is often very helpful and the first night is usually the worst. 

If at any point your child is doing excessive drooling, seems agitated or is having progressively difficult breathing it is time to head to the emergency room.
More than half of the time, your child will be dramatically better by the time you get there. Somehow getting out in the night air is quite helpful.

For mild cases rest, steam and fluids will get you through.
For more severe cases your child will likely get a dose of steroids that will calm things down..

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