The Barking Cough of Croup
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The Barking Cough of Croup

Croup is a breathing difficulty which is accompanied by a barking cough. CroupÂ’s barking cough is caused by a swelling around the vocal cords and is generally seen more often in babies and small children. However, adults can also develop croup.

Croup is a breathing difficulty which is accompanied by a barking cough. Croup’s barking cough is caused by a swelling around the vocal cords and is generally seen more often in babies and small children. However, adults can also develop croup.


There is an array of causes for croup. A virus is characteristically the culprit for croup. Although a virus is the most common cause you can also develop croup from bacterial infections, allergies and inhaling irritants for the vocal cords. Acid reflux can cause croup quite often in adults.

Who gets croup?

Infants and children are the most common sufferers of croup. Historically before immunizations and antibiotics where available, croup was life-threatening and most often times fatal for patients. However, today we see most cases resolve with a simple round of antibiotics and the cases of death have almost all disappeared and patients experiencing the disease have diminishing with time.

Croup appears most often between the ages of 3 months and 5 years old. However, older children as well as adults can also have a case of croup. Some children are more prone to the disease and can acquire it more often. There is no clearly defined reason why some people are more susceptible to croup than others.

If you happen to live in the northern section of the United States it is more common during the months of October and March. Although these are the more common months to develop croup, it can occur at any time.

Indicators and symptoms

Croup has a barking cough. The cough can be compared to that of a seal barking. Most children will have a mild cold for a couple of days before the barking cough emerges. As the cough becomes more frequent the patient may have labored breathing and what is referred to a crowing noise when they are inhaling.

Croup is characteristically worse at night. Croup will run its course in about a week, but the first couple of nights are the worse for the cough. Croup that last more than a week and hasn’t resolved itself should be evaluated by a physician. This could mean it is not a virus and medical intervention with an antibiotic may be needed.

Care at home

Most cases are managed with the same home care similar to treating a cold or the flu. However, if the cough is causing the patient to become short of breath or unable to breathe, call your physician or seek medical attention immediately if needed.

Cool or moist air can provide relief for the barking cough. A cool air vaporizer is great for the croup cough. The first couple of nights of the croup coughing will really benefit from the cool air vaporizer.

Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide relief if a fever is present as well as providing relief from the aches of having the crouping cough that many patients experience. Cough medicines may or may not help. Discuss using cough syrups with your physician. These may or may not help the crouping cough.

Medical treatment for croup

Physicians will typically treat croup with antibiotics if they are bacterial in cause. Steroids can be used to reduce the inflammation of the vocal cords and will give immediate relief in almost all cases.

When to seek immediate medical attention

If you belief that croup was caused from an allergic reaction, such as an insect sting or food allergy, you should get medical attention immediately.

If your child has a bluish tinge around the face, especially to the lips, seek medical attention immediately. This is an indication not enough oxygen is being inhaled.

If you child has a drool.

If there is any indication that you cannot breathe or are struggling to breathe get medical attention immediately for croup.

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Comments (2)

Well done. I haven't heard of anyone having this in years which is good news.

I often have this. It is hard..