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Children's Health

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Understanding Croup -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Croup?

The symptoms of croup include:

  • A sharp, barking cough
  • Noisy breathing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Labored breathing that seems to put strain on the neck muscles, ribs or breastbone, thereby making these areas retract noticeably with each breath

Understanding Croup

Find out more about croup:




When to Call for Medical Help

Call 911 if:

  • Your child has croup and seems to be breathing faster than normal, is having extreme difficulty breathing, cannot talk, or is turning pale or blue. These are all symptoms of severe respiratory distress.
  • Your child has very noisy or very rapid breathing. A foreign object may be stuck in his throat or lung tubes.
  • Your child suddenly begins drooling or can't swallow, has a high fever but no cough, and is leaning forward but can't bend his neck and can't talk. Your child may have a dangerous bacterial infection called epiglottitis, which causes a blocked airway. Do not open the mouth to look inside; doing so can completely close the throat and shut down the child's breathing. Call immediate emergency help. Your child is at particular risk for this problem if the primary immunization series (first three sets at 2, 4, and 6 months) has not been given. Even if your child has been immunized, if these symptoms appear, call 911. Luckily, because of today's immunizations, this infection is rare.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your child has croup accompanied by a high fever (103 F or more).
  • Home remedies are not working and the croup symptoms seem to be worsening.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on March 01, 2015

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