5 Tips to Combat Croup
Croup is a viral infection of the windpipe and the vocal cords, but you’ll know it better as the barking, wheezing cough that keeps you and your child awake until 3 A.M.
It often appears as a stage of a cold or flu virus, and if your child has a fever that means they’re likely still contagious. Luckily, there are still plenty of things for you to do at home to help your little one ride out the coughing storm.
1. Keep your child calm.
This is the number one rule of treating children with croup. Croup’s main symptom is swelling of the airway, and crying or agitation can make that swelling get worse. This is a good time for them to get whatever they want that will calm them down and keep them content. Whether that’s a favorite movie, reading out loud to them, or a coloring book, keeping them calm is your priority.
2. Keep your child upright when they’re not trying to sleep.
Chances are they’ll be more comfortable sitting up straight anyway, because the airway is the most open in that position. The open air flow may only be coming through a passage the size of a spaghetti noodle—it’s important to keep that passage open as wide as possible.
3. Don’t use cough medicines.
Cough medicines are designed to break up the mucus that forms when your sinuses drain into your throat. While there may be mucus in your child’s throat, the problem is more about the swelling, not the mucus.
Many cough medicines are not safe for young children, especially under the age of five. If you’re considering giving them cough medicine to break up mucus, please be sure to read the instructions on the label before you give them anything.
4. Use a warm humidifier to help them breathe.
Warm, moist air is soothing and easy to breathe, not to mention relaxing. Keep a humidifier in your child’s bedroom when they’re trying to sleep (even if they can’t sleep, the warm air will ease their coughing).
5. Make sure they’re getting enough oxygen.
The big thing to keep an eye out for is if your child wheezes loudly when they’re just trying to breathe normally, or if they start to turn blue or pass out, it’s time to take them to urgent care or an emergency room. The doctors there will administer a steroid to reduce the swelling within minutes, and then prescribe a long-acting steroid to make sure the swelling stays down.
Remember, keeping your child calm means staying calm yourself. With these tips you can fight back croup and have your child back to normal in a few days.