Croup - Treatments

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What is the treatment for croup? Are there home remedies for croup?

Croup can be frightening for both children and parents. Therefore, comforting and reassuring the child is the first step. Breathing difficulties can develop and worsen rapidly. Close monitoring of the child is important during the early phases of the illness.

To help the child breathe more comfortably, a cool or warm mist vaporizer can be placed near the child. The humidified air promotes reduction of vocal cord swelling and thus lessens symptoms. To avoid accidental burns, hot water vaporizers should be out of the reach of infants and toddlers. Also effective is having the child breathe in a bathroom steamed up with hot water from the tub or shower. When cough or stridor worsens at night, 10-15 minutes sitting or driving in the cool night air can also help relieve the child's respiratory symptoms.

In infants and children, blockage in the nasal passages from mucus can further impair breathing. Careful instillation of saltwater nose drops (¼ teaspoon of table salt in 1 cup of water) into the nasal openings every few hours, followed by gentle suction using a bulb syringe, can be helpful in opening nasal passages.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding most combination cough and cold medicines. Several studies show that these medicines are ineffective in children. They can potentially cause side effects that could lead to more serious symptoms. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) are helpful for pain relief and fever. Aspirin is avoided in the treatment of croup and other viral illnesses since aspirin is suspected as being related to Reye's syndrome. Reye's syndrome is a serious illness that causes kidney, liver, and brain damage, which can lead to the rapid onset of coma. Occasionally, an oral cortisone medication (dexamethasone) is prescribed for more severe cases of croup. Few patients have such severe respiratory symptoms that inhalation therapy with epinephrine (adrenaline) may be administered in a hospital setting; there continuous monitoring is available. Such therapy provides a temporary (two hour) reduction of symptoms but is commonly followed by a return of equally severe symptoms. This reappearance of symptoms is commonly termed as a "rebound" phenomenon. Side effects of epinephrine inhalation therapy include rapid heart rate, elevation of blood pressure, nausea, and occasionally vomiting and agitation. Because a virus usually causes croup, antibiotics are reserved for those rare occasions when bacterial infections cause croup or become superimposed on the viral infection.

Even though plenty of fluids are encouraged to avoid dehydration, forcing fluids is generally unnecessary. Popsicles are a popular means of providing fluid. Activity should be restricted to quiet play during the first days of the illness.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Tibble22, 0-2 Female (Caregiver) Published: October 16

I was trying to pull apart two of my dogs while they were fighting with each other, lost my grip and flew about 15 feet and landed on my tailbone. I take a painkiller regularly for several types of arthritis so I have felt minimum pain except when I am sitting on a hard surface. Icing the tailbone helped initially but now it's just a matter of time.

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Comment from: My three sons, Male (Patient) Published: November 18

All three of my children have suffered from croup. The most effective way of dealing with it for us is to go straight outside if it's colder than 50 degrees. The colder the better. If it isn't cold outside I literally put their face in the freezer. The croupy cough usually clears up within a minute and they have relief. It's important to take them to the doctor the next day in order to get steroids or you will be in the same boat, if not worse, the following night!

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