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Croup - Home Treatment

Home treatment usually is all that is needed to treat croup. You can help prevent major episodes, or attacks, as well as use techniques to manage attacks if they occur.

Wash your hands often and keep your child away from others to help prevent spreading croup. Keep your child home from day care or school if he or she has croup.

Preventing croup attacks

You may be able to prevent croup attacks of intense troubled breathing and coughing. If your child has croup:

  • Offer plenty of fluids to drink. Always have water available and try offering other beverages, frozen ice treats (such as Popsicles), or crushed ice drinks several times each hour.
  • Do not smoke, especially in the house.
  • Consider using a humidifier in your child's room. Don't use a hot vaporizer, and make sure you put only plain water in the humidifier. Although research has not consistently shown that croup symptoms improve with humidifier use, using one poses very little risk.1 To prevent mold growth, be sure to empty, clean, and completely dry out the humidifier between each use.

Managing attacks of croup

It is important for you and your child to keep calm during an attack of croup, even though it can be frightening. If your child is upset, crying, and anxious, the swelling and narrowing of the airway can become worse. Usually, symptoms sound worse than they are.

Taking measures to manage an episode of croup, such as adding moisture to the air and keeping your child calm and comfortable, can help keep symptoms under control. If coughing and difficulty breathing do not improve within about 30 minutes despite your efforts, call or see your child's doctor. Because attacks often occur in the middle of the night, you may need to visit the emergency room.

Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are not helpful for treating croup. These medicines may not be safe for young children. Before you give them to a child, check the label. If you do give these medicines to a child, always follow the directions about how much to give based on the child?s age and weight.

For more information on how to deal with croup at home, see:

Croup: Managing a Croup Attack.

If your child has severe difficulty breathing, call911or other emergency services immediately.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 04, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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