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Children's Health

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Croup - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

Even though your child's coughing and troubled breathing can be frightening, home treatment usually eases the symptoms.

  • Try to stay calm during an attack, and soothe your child. Your child's crying can make the swelling in the windpipe worse and make it even harder to breathe.
  • Try running a hot shower to create steam. Do NOT put your child in the hot shower. Let the bathroom fill with steam. Have your child breathe in the moist air for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Breathing cool night air also seems to help sometimes. Dress your child in warm clothes, and go outside for 10 minutes.
  • If symptoms improve with these methods, put your child back in bed. If the symptoms happen during the middle of the night, it is a good idea to sleep in or near your child's room until morning.
  • Be sure to keep your child well hydrated. Offer water, flavored ice pops (such as Popsicles), or crushed-ice drinks several times each hour.
  • Do not let anyone smoke around your child or in the house.
  • Do not give your child over-the-counter cough or cold medicines. They don't help with croup, and they may not be safe for young children.

If your child's symptoms don't get better after 30 minutes, call your child's doctor. Because attacks often occur in the middle of the night when your doctor is probably not available, you may have to go to the emergency room.

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

When home treatment isn't enough, medicines such as glucocorticoids or epinephrine may be used to decrease airway swelling. These are usually given in a doctor's office or an emergency room. In rare cases, your child may need to stay in the hospital to get extra oxygen or other treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
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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