What is Croup?

croup pinWhat is Croup?

Croup. Have you ever heard of it? Chances are, if you have a little one, you’ll know someone who’s child suffers or your own child has suffered. If you’re not sure what it is though, read on and I’ve included a video so that you can hear what it sounds like.

Croup can be terrifying for the child and the parents. Croup is a condition that affects the windpipe (trachea), the airways to the lungs (the bronchi) and the voice box (larynx).

It is usually caused by a virus and causes inflammation. This then leads to the distinctive bark like cough and can cause them to breathe noisily, called a stridor. The child can feel as though they are struggling to breathe and so it’s important to stay calm and know how to help them. My son was unfortunately born with a condition called laringomalacia which is a ‘floppy larynx’ (voice box) and this has in turn meant that he is particularly susceptible to croup (that and the fact that I am his mum and suffered terribly as a child also!). I actually had croup as a 17yr old which is really rare.

Most children (boys more than girls) get croup between the age of 6 months and 3 years but it’s not uncommon for a baby of 3 months or older children to suffer. It’s more common in autumn and winter but here am I, in July, prompted to write this as my son has just suffered a particularly nasty bout that lasted 5 days. 5 days of little sleep and rest for us both.

What does Croup sound like? The following is a very short video, less than 2 minutes long, that I took of my son during his recent attack.

How to help your child if and when they have croup.

***I am not a Dr nor a trained clinician. This is not trained medical advice. If you have any worries for your child, take them the dr’s, call 111, go to A&E or call 999 immediately.***

One of the most important things that I mentioned above, is to stay calm. It can be terrifying for the child as they can struggle to breathe in and get stuck in terrible cough spasms that can cause them to vomit and the more upset they get, the harder it can be for them to breathe which just worsens the cycle.

If your child is under one year old and this is their first attack of suspected Croup, please call 111 for advice or take them immediately to A&E if you are worried at all.

Quite often, your child may have cold symptoms and possibly and ear infection with croup and so it can be good to get them checked out but if you are happy that you can wait until the next day, hopefully this can help. If your child has eaten recently or if you can get them to have a little biscuit or something to protect their stomach, ibuprofen is great along with or instead of calpol/paracetamol suspension.

The most common advice that you will hear is to go into the bathroom, turn the shower and all the taps on to hot, create steam and sit in there with the child for as long as possible. Now, whilst this can help, one of the best things that you can do is to stand by an open window (hoping that the night air is cool and it’s not a balmy summer evening!) or even stand outside a s the cold can help reduce the inflammation enough for them to catch their breath easier. I would personally suggest a combo of the two- cold air and then the steamy room. What we use, instead of a steamy bathroom, is a Vics Vaporiser. You fill it with water, plug it in and it creates steam. You need to put it out of reach of course but its safe and automatically turns itself of when it runs out of water. Although not recommended and it voids your warranty, we add a couple of drops of Olbas oil as well and I find that it really helps. Last night was day 6 of this latest bout of croup and I thought we could manage without it but I ended up having to plug it in at midnight as he was coughing away. I really think it helps. Click here to take a look at it. This is not an affiliate link, I’ve just included it to help you if you are interested.

Another good tip that your child will hopefully like which will then hopefully lesson the upset, is an ice lolly. I find that his helps my little man the most when he is stuck in a violet coughing fit. Again, the cold juice from the lolly helps to calm the inflammation and can be enough to help them get back to sleep.

If you are at all worried by your child’s breathing or if you see that they are really struggling to breathe and pulling in their chests and rib cage, do not hesitate to take them to be seen at A&E or call 999. It is not always prescribed but if your child is really suffering, they can be given a 3 day course of steroids that reduces the inflammation. Occasionally children need oxygen through a mask. It is very rare for a child to die from croup although it has happened sadly.

However, above all else, Mother’s instinct is the best way to go. I have panicked on occasion and thought that I’ve needed to take little man to be seen but my mum has helped to be rationalise that he is ok but alternatively, there have been at least 6 occasions where we have ended up at the hospital, seeing the out of hours dr’s at 2am. 9 times out of 10 I have left the house with a very very poorly boy and have turned up to the hospital and the child has made a miraculous recovery and takes the ward hostage with his boisterous behaviour! I always put it down to the cold air and the dr’s have seen it before and can hear the cough and take us seriously. Don’t feel bad if that happens to you. It can be the best cure.

If your child does need the steroids, they can start working through that first night and the next night needn’t be dreaded the same. The common rule with croup is that the first night is the worst and that it usually will last 3 days or so. Occasionally, as with everything, it can last longer and with my son, he tends to get progressively worse over about 4 days meaning that I dread every night. We still don’t use steroids every time though.

Our journey with croup is far from over I dread. I’m gutted that he has it now, in summer which is against the norm and its making me nervous about autumn and winter. When my son had ENT surgery for grommets to be put in and to have his adenoids and tonsils removed at 2 yrs. old (read about that here) we found out that his voice box was too tight and so the way it was explained to me was that they snipped it to make it a little bigger. The result was a massive improvement in the amount of times he gets croup and the severity of the cases although it seems to be creeping back a little more often than I am happy with…… For further information take a look at the NHS Croup page here Love






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  1. Aww bless him 🙁 I had never heard of this before ..

    Thanks for sharing at the weekend blog hop, will share your post to help others.. I hope you can get help soon ..

    1. Oh really? Well, if you ever find yourself around someone that coughs like this, at least you’ll know what to do I hope! It can bbe very scary, the first time you experience it x

  2. Aww poor little thing!! 🙁 This is awful!! I don’t think I have heard of croup before. My daughter suffers of asthma (actually we don’t know yet as we are waiting for the hospital to give us an appointment and confirm this) and since she was a baby she has had terrible attacks. We have been at A&E a few times and to the walk in centre lots of times. She uses 2 types of inhalers. She had to take steroids for a treatment of 5 days. She has been very poorly and her cough is not like your baby but it is very strong too. So I really understand when you are terrified when this things happened. I have to be very alert when she has a cold as this can make her asthma worst. Anyway, it is difficult and heart breaking to see your child suffering like that. You were very good and strong and has handled this croup thing very well. Thanks for sharing, xx #bigfatlinky

    1. I’m quite nervous of Asthma- it terrifies me. Thankfully my little one should grow out of Croup. I hope your daughter doesn’t suffer too much with it

  3. This is really useful and I am sure will help others. Thanks for sharing it on #bigfatlinky Sorry to read it is creeping back and I hope that things get better soon.

  4. MY son had croup for the first time a few months back and it is awful, it sounds so scary. It sounds like your son has a hard time of it though I hope he gets better soon xx

  5. Great tips, it is so scary when your child has croup, Alexander my youngest suffers pretty much every time he has a cold with it, often needing steroids to help him. I can’t wait for him to grow out of it. Thanks for linking up x

  6. This is such great advice. So sorry for your little man he sounds so helpless in the video 🙁 It’s so hard on us mommies when our babies don’t feel good. Hope he is better now and you have both gotten some well needed rest. Thanks for linking up with #momsterslink.

    1. Thanks Trista. The video is horrible but I thought it might be good to share it for other mothers x

  7. Hi,i am a mother of 4 year old daughter.After hearing the video i can see that my child was having such a cough a month back in the mornings..i thought it was a dry cough..but now she is having all those breathing sounds..have a dr appointment today..but i am really scared now..that strange cough was a month ago and i rarely hear her cough now..but her breathing sounds…they are scary..will there be any complications ..i mean i can see that there is a long gap b/w the cough episode and breathing sounds in her case..any help is appreciated…

    1. I’m sorry that I’ve only just seen this. Try not to be worried. I hope your dr has given you some reassurance or treatment. Croup is to my knowledge, the result of a virus and has a definite time period and once recovered from each individual episode, shouldn’t cause issues beyond that. Sending hugs and best wishes to you and your daughter. It’s so so scary isn’t it x

      1. hi..yeah went to dr..he said it doesnt look like croup,since no cough now.He is saying that it might be upper nasal congestion due to allergies..gave medication till spring..i feel like that sound is more persistent is one scary one..Appreciate the response..thanks a lot..

        1. We have antihistamine until Spring as well. He probably did have croup those few weeks ago but it’s usually short lived- a day or two. I hope the rest of winter goes smoothly x

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