Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Understanding Croup -- Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Croup?

Croup can usually be managed with cool mist or steam therapy, which dissolves sticky or dried mucus in the child's breathing passages and lubricates the throat and windpipe. Because the condition commonly worsens at night, many doctors recommend that you sleep in the same room with your child or use a baby monitor to listen for any change in the child's condition. Be ready to get medical help if your child doesn't improve.

Doctors recommend home care for all but the most serious cases of croup. Antibiotics are not helpful for treating croup that's caused by a virus. If the symptoms are severe enough, the child will be given inhaled medications such as racemic epinephrine in the emergency room. If the child is still not better, an X-ray may be taken and the child may be kept in the hospital overnight.

Understanding Croup

Find out more about croup:

Basics

Symptoms

Treatment

Oral corticosteroids (prednisolone, dexamethasone, and others) are sometimes used to reduce inflammation and swelling. This treatment is prescribed for those with the worst symptoms and as a precaution for those children with stridor -- or noisy breathing -- during the day, knowing that stridor will often increase at night. The treatment starts to work in one to two hours and has maximum effect by eight to 12 hours after it is taken.

 

At-Home Remedies for Croup

  • A cool-mist humidifier may help your child breathe if he has croup. Direct the mist away from the face and don't put medications in the water; they can irritate your child's throat.
  • The best approach to treating croup with steam is to run hot water full out and steam up the entire bathroom. Because the windpipe area is inflamed, cool steam is a bit better than hot, so crack open the window just slightly. Hold your child in your arms in the steamy bathroom for 20-30 minutes. If the child is not better, head for the nearest emergency room. If the child improves, give plenty of fluids and place a vaporizer -- or preferably a cool mist (ultrasonic) nebulizer -- at your child’s bedside as above.
  • Do not be surprised if the child gets worse again. The second and third nights of the disease are always the worst, and you may have to repeat the steam treatment.
  • Cold air sometimes improves croup. If the night is cool, take your child for a ride in the car with the windows down.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol and multiple generic brands) or Ibuprofen (Motrin and many generic brands) will bring down a fever and that may lower your child's respiratory rate. (But remember, never give children aspirin to reduce fever!)
  • Offer plenty of liquids to restore fluids and to loosen phlegm.
  • As always, keep your child away from cigarette smoke.

Once you have made it through the third night of the croup, you can pretty much relax -- it will get better from that point.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on March 08, 2014

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
Article
look at my hand
Slideshow
 
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
young boy with fever
Article
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections