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Croup is caused by swelling in and just below the vocal cords. There is usually a hoarse, ringing, barking or croupy cough and some tightness of breathing, especially when the child inhales. The cause of croup is a viral infection. Croup is scary when you see it for the first time, but it's usually not as serious as it looks. It may recur several times in early childhood, Call the doctor promptly for any kind of croup.

Sometimes what looks like croup is really a child choking on a small object that has got stuck in the windpipe. So it's very important that any child who develops a sudden croupy cough br checked by a doctor.

Spasmodic croup

Spasmodic croup is usually a mild form of croup that comes on suddenly during the evening. The child may have been perfectly healthy during the day or may have had the mildest of colds without a cough. Suddenly she wakes up with a violent fit of croupy coughing, is hoarse and has difficulty breathing. The child struggles and heaves to get air in. She has no fever.

Croup that accompanies a viral cold and fever is usually more severe. The child has a croupy cough and tight breathing. As the child breathes in, the narrowed airway makes a loud gasping sound, called stridor. Croup may come on gradually or suddenly, at any time of the day or night. The cough sounds like a dog or " seal barking. When the swelling in the airway is severe, it can be very difficult for the child to breathe.

A child with a hoarse, croupy cough with fever, especially with tightness of breathing and rapid breathing, should be put under the close, continuous supervision of a doctor without I delay. If you cannot reach your own doctor right away, find and other one. If you can't reach any, take your child to a hospital. Medicines can open up the airway in an emergency but can be given only in a hospital.

The emergency treatment for croup until a doctor can be cached is moist air. Use a cold-mist humidifier if you have one. A small room is preferable because you can humidify it faster. You can also take the child into the bathroom and run very hot 'Water into the tub to make steam, not to put the child in. If there II a shower, that works best of all. A twenty-minute steam in the 'Bathroom with the child sitting upright in your lap and the door hut is the best first treatment.

Humidifier or vaporizer steam works much better if it's concentrated under a tent. You can make one by draping sheets over cot or small table placed on the bed or you can tack them to the wall. When the child breathes the moist air, the croup will usually begin to improve rapidly. Croup is made worse by an anxious child, so if the makeshift tent frightens the child, it's better not to use it. You or another adult should stay awake as long as there are any symptoms of croup. After the croup is over, wake up two to three hours later to check that the child is breathing comfortably.

Spasmodic croup and viral croup sometimes come back a night or two later. Having the child sleep in a room whose air has been moistened can help. You should take this precaution for three or four nights.

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