Croup is a disease that affects children between the age of 3 months and 3 years. It is caused by viruses. It is characterized by obstruction of breathing caused by narrowing of upper airway passages.
The onset of illness is acute. The patient may present with barking, brassy cough, with noisy inspiration or stridor, labored breathing. The child may have flaring of the nostrils, or using neck muscles while breathing. Breathing worsens progressively and can lead to pallor and cyanosis.
Other family members may be ill with respiratory symptoms.
Examination by physician is mandatory with possible further studies including x-ray of the neck- which may show haziness of the subglottic area (the area below the voice box). Blood samples may show normal white count.
This involves fluid resuscitation, the use of a humidifier, or possibly sitting in a bathroom with the child with steam may be an alternative. Medications used include racemic epinephrine (which is epinephrine in a vaporized form). In severe cases, the child may need hospitalization.
Severe cases may cause respiratory arrest and death.
If the child shows difficulty in breathing, leaning forward and gasping for breathe; the child must be evaluated immediately by medical personnel.