Croup Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on November 12, 2022

Croup usually starts as a cold. Your child might have a runny or stuffy nose and a fever. But it doesn’t take long before your little one’s symptoms turn into something else. 

A virus usually causes croup. Your child may get it by breathing infected droplets or touching a germy surface and then their eyes, nose, or mouth. Here are the signs your child may have croup:

Croup symptoms may be worse at night and usually last 3 to 5 days.

Call your doctor if symptoms don’t improve after 3 to 5 days or if they get worse. See your doctor right away if your child:

  • Makes a noisy, high-pitched breathing sound (doctors call it stridor) when they breathe in or out

  • Starts drooling or has a hard time swallowing

  • Is anxious or agitated, or has no energy

  • Breathes much faster than usual

  • Has a hard time breathing (chest muscles pull in)

  • Turns gray or blue around their nose, mouth, or fingernails

Seems to be dehydrated, with dry lips or tongue, and/or no urine output

Show Sources


Mayo Clinic: “Croup Symptoms and Causes," "Croup."

KidsHealth: “Croup.”

UpToDate: “Patient Education: Croup in Infants and Children (Beyond the Basics).”

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