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.
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.