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Tips, Information,
and Insights on
Cough Relief and Causes,
from the WebMD Ear,
Nose & Throat Community

In the WebMD Ear, Nose, & Throat Community, one member with severe asthma says she saw her doctor for troubled breathing and a cough. Her doctor was aggressive in treating her with antibiotics and steroids. But after numerous diagnoses -- from severe bronchitis, to pneumonia, to croup -- she comes to the WebMD ENT Community with a question: Can an adult get croup?

Health expert Rod Moser, PA, PhD, says her symptoms indicate a reactive airway disease. Croup, pneumonia, and whooping cough (pertussis) are all in this class. But croup is usually viral, meaning that antibiotics won't help. Pneumonia and whooping cough, on the other hand, can be treated with antibiotics.

There is evidence that steroids can help ease croup symptoms and calm airway inflammation. Moser says the woman's asthma medications -- which would include a steroid -- should have helped if she actually does have croup.

Overall, Moser says the treatment she's received is fitting for the kinds of infections she could most likely have. He also recommends that all adults get the vaccine for whooping cough, since this disease is on the rise.

Another community member reports a diagnosis of croup, followed by treatment with steroids. He wonders how long it will take to feel better. Moser says that most viral infections of the respiratory tract last about a week, whether you treat them or not. He also says that for most viruses, you are usually contagious for a day before you know you're sick, then two or three days after symptoms show up.

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