Have you ever heard of Croup? If you haven’t, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Croup is a common condition that can affect your little one, causing some worrisome symptoms. But fret not! In this short and snappy guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about croup in babies.
Croup In Babies: Everything You Need To Know
Life can be taxing when your baby is suffering from an infection. The little one is extremely uncomfortable and you have the hardest time trying to get him to relax and feel better.
A slight change in weather and your little one has a runny nose and chest congestion. It’s particularly distressing when your baby is sick with a cough. He’ll have breathing trouble, sleep less, and will be irritable the whole time.
Home remedies and a little time do the trick for cough infections in most cases. But sometimes, the infection can be alarming and needs a paediatrician’s attention. A severe cough infection could also point towards croup in babies.
Croup typically arises from a viral infection, leading to inflammation in the windpipe (trachea) and voice box (larynx). This inflammation causes the trachea to narrow, making it more challenging for air to reach the lungs.
Common age group at risk for croup infection
Croup can affect children of various ages, but it tends to be more common in younger kids, especially those between six months and three years old. This is because their airways are narrower, making them more susceptible to swelling and obstruction.
However, older children can also get croup, though it is less frequent. So, if you have a little one in that age range, it’s good to be aware of the signs and symptoms of croup.
While it can be treated at home, more severe symptoms will need a doctor’s intervention. Here’s all your need to know about croup in babies, symptoms, precautions and treatments.
Croup in babies usually lasts between five to six days if the symptoms are very mild. | Image courtesy: Pexels
How Your Baby Can Get Croup
Babies can catch croup through close contact with someone who has the illness. Croup is usually caused by viruses that can spread easily, especially in crowded places like daycare centres or schools.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets containing the virus can be released into the air. If your baby inhales these infected droplets, it can lead to the development of croup.
Additionally, touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching their face can also be a source of transmission for babies.
Symptoms Of Croup Infection In Babies
Croup occurs when there is inflammation in the upper airway (larynx and trachea). This causes the barking cough. You may find that croup symptoms generally peak two to three days after the symptoms of the viral infection begin. They typically last three to seven days and may get worse at night.
Here are some common symptoms of croup in babies:
- Barking cough: The loud barking cough gets aggravated by crying and coughing. Anxiety and agitation in your kid set up a cycle of worsening signs and symptoms. The wheezing sound comes because the upper airway of your little one is swollen, and this makes it difficult for them to breathe.
Fever: Infants can have a fever if their temperature is at 100.4°F (38° C) or higher when taken rectally. And around 99°F (37.2°C) or higher when taken by other methods.
Noisy breathing: One of the common symptoms of croup in babies is trouble breathing. You may hear an unsettling noise when your little one breathes.
Runny nose: Your child may also cry to show discomfort due to a runny nose with clear discharge. They can also have stuffy noses or congestion, accompanied by sneezing.
Croup in babies usually lasts between five to six days if the symptoms are very mild. But if the croup cough lasts up to 14 days, it is time for you to take your little one to the doctor.
Here’s when to call the doctor
Croup in babies is usually mild. But, some may also show severe symptoms. When the inflammation in the airway swells, it may obstruct your child’s breathing.
Consult a doctor, if your child’s symptoms are getting worse and they are not responding to treatment. Look for these red flags in your child.
- Begins drooling or has difficulty swallowing
- Breathes at a faster rate than usual
- Struggles to breathe
- Develops blue or greyish skin around the nose, mouth or fingernails
- When your child seems anxious and agitated or fatigued and listless
- Pale look: When your baby inhales, the skin between their ribs tends to pull in, giving them a pale or flushed look
Croup is usually caused by a viral infection, most often a parainfluenza virus. Your child may have got the infection by breathing the infected respiratory droplets.
Treatment of Croup In Babies
Steam or vapour can help to loosen the mucus in your child’s airway. | Image courtesy: iStock
Dealing with croup in babies can be stressful for parents, but there are several effective treatment options available to alleviate symptoms and help your little one recover faster. Here are five tried-and-true treatments for croup that can bring relief to both you and your baby.
Moist Air Therapy: One of the most common treatments for croup is moist air therapy. You can create a soothing environment by using a humidifier or running a hot shower and sitting with your baby in the steam-filled bathroom. The moist air helps reduce inflammation in the airways, making breathing easier for your little one.
Cool Mist Therapy: Similar to moist air therapy, cool mist therapy is another effective way to relieve croup symptoms. Using a cool mist humidifier or a nebulizer with saline solution can help ease breathing difficulties. Remember to clean and maintain the equipment properly to ensure its effectiveness.
Plenty of Fluids: Staying hydrated is crucial for babies with croup. Offer your baby plenty of fluids, such as water or breast milk/formula, to prevent dehydration and keep their throat moist. Hydration helps to thin out mucus and ease coughing, making it easier for your baby to breathe.
Elevating the Head: Raising your baby’s head while they sleep can help reduce coughing and improve breathing. Prop up the head of the crib or use a pillow designed for infants to elevate the upper body slightly. Always ensure your baby’s sleeping environment is safe and secure.
Medical Intervention: In severe cases of croup, medical intervention may be necessary. Your doctor might prescribe corticosteroids to reduce airway inflammation, or in rare instances, provide nebulized epinephrine to quickly alleviate symptoms. If your baby is having severe breathing difficulties or shows signs of distress, seek medical attention promptly.
You might be wondering, “What are the long-term effects of croup on my child’s health?” Well, the good news is that most children recover fully from croup without any lasting issues. However, in rare cases, severe episodes of croup can lead to complications like pneumonia or respiratory distress.
It’s essential to monitor your child’s symptoms and seek medical attention if you notice persistent breathing difficulties or worsening of symptoms. Remember, your paediatrician is the best person to provide guidance and support for your child’s health.
5 Effective Tips to Prevent Croup in Babies
Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to croup. By implementing simple yet effective strategies, you can reduce the risk of your little one developing this uncomfortable condition. Let’s explore five proven prevention strategies for croup that can help keep your baby healthy and happy.
1. Hand Hygiene
Regular handwashing is a powerful defence against many viral infections, including croup. Encourage proper hand hygiene for both yourself and your baby. Teach them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public places or around individuals with respiratory illnesses.
2. Avoid Close Contact with Sick Individuals
Croup is contagious, so it’s important to limit your baby’s exposure to individuals who have respiratory infections. Try to avoid close contact with people who have a persistent cough, runny nose, or other cold-like symptoms. This can help minimise the chances of your baby coming into contact with the viruses that cause croup.
3. Keep Your Baby Away from Smoke
Exposure to smoke, including cigarette smoke, can irritate your baby’s airways and make them more vulnerable to respiratory infections like croup. Keep your home and car smoke-free to create a healthy environment for your little one. If you or others in your household smoke, consider quitting or smoking outside away from your baby.
4. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
A strong immune system can help protect your baby from various illnesses, including croup. Ensure your little one receives a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and enough sleep. Breastfeeding, if possible, can also provide additional antibodies that can strengthen their immune system.
5. Stay Up to Date with Vaccinations
Vaccinations play a crucial role in preventing many viral infections. Follow the recommended vaccination schedule for your baby, including the vaccines that protect against common viruses associated with croup, such as the flu vaccine. Vaccinations not only protect your baby but also contribute to community immunity, reducing the overall spread of viruses.
Image Source: iStock