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Croup - Treatment Overview

Home treatment, such as using a humidifier, can help treat mild to moderate croup. Regardless of treatment, symptoms usually improve gradually within 2 to 5 days.

If your child has severe croup or has not responded to home treatment, medicines may be used to reduce airway swelling. These are usually given in a doctor's office or an emergency room. Medicines usually include:

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If your child needs extra oxygen, it is given through a nasal cannula or delivered through an oxygen mask placed over the nose and mouth.

If breathing improves after one or more of these measures, your child will be observed for a short time and sent home. If symptoms do not improve, your child may need hospitalization and further testing.

What to Think About

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.

Antibiotics are not effective treatments for croup. These are only used if a secondary bacterial infection, such as a middle ear infection, develops.

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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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