Croup is a viral infection characterized by barky cough, stridor and sometimes difficulty breathing. Onset can be sudden and severe in some children.

How can I take care of my child?

For mild croup with no complications, home care is all that is needed. Coughing up mucus is very important for protecting lungs from pneumonia. Give warm, clear fluids to thin the mucus and relax the airway. You may use honey as needed for a homemade cough medicine, but only for children over 12 months. For coughing spasms, take your child out in the air if it is less than 50˚outside. The steam of the shower or putting your child in front of a car air conditioner can also be helpful. If child’s difficulty breathing does not quickly improve, seek emergency help. Sleep in the same room with your child for a few nights to better observe the onset of more severe symptoms. Keep child away from active or passive cigarette smoke, which can make the cough much worse.

Caution: Do not give honey to children under 12 months because of the risk for botulism.

When to Call

Call during office hours if you have any questions or concerns.

Call our office immediately if your child:

  • has sudden onset of stridor and fever after two or more days of croup.
  • has had stridor but it is not present now (harsh, raspy, tight sound with breathing in).
  • has had croup before that needed Decadron.
  • has a fever that returns after going away for more than 24 hours.
  • has a continuous (nonstop) cough.
  • has choked on a small object that could be caught in the throat.
  • is 2-4 months old and has a fever greater than 100.4◦ .
  • has severe chest pain.
  • can’t bend the neck forward.
  • is unable to speak.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if your child:

  • has severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, making grunting noises with each breath, unable to speak or cry because of difficulty breathing or severe retractions).
  • is drooling, spitting, or having great difficulty swallowing.
  • is passed out or has stopped breathing.
  • has blue or dark purple color to the nail beds, lips, gums or face.
  • has croup that started suddenly after a bee sting, taking medicine, or eating a high-risk food, such as peanut butter.