Children and Young People’s Emergency Department
You have been given this information because your child has been diagnosed with croup.
Croup is a viral infection that affects the windpipe (trachea), the airways to the lungs
(the bronchi) and the voice box (larynx). It may develop after your child has had a cold. It commonly affects children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years old, it is uncommon after the age of 6 years old.
Signs of croup
- Barking cough like a seal
- A hoarse voice
- Difficulty with breathing
- Noisy harsh sound when breathing in, called stridor
- Cold-like symptoms, for example; high temperature, runny nose, sore throat
Caring for your child with croup
Croup can usually be diagnosed by your GP and treated at home.
Keep your child as comfortable as possible, be calm and reassuring. Croup may be distressing to a small child, crying may make breathing more difficult.
Increase the amount of drinks your child has.
If breast fed, continue to do so.
If your child has a temperature or sore throat, you can give paracetamol and/or ibuprofen. Please check the medication label prior to giving to your child.
Mild croup may not need any specific treatment other than oral fluids and paracetamol for a temperature.
Croup with noisy or difficult breathing is often given a steroid medication, called dexamethasone. Only one dose is usually required. This will help reduce swelling in the airway, and reduce symptoms.
Steam should not be used; this may lead to scalding your child.
Croup usually lasts 1 to 3 days, but may leave a mild cough for 1 to 2 weeks.
Seek immediate medical advice if any of the following occur:
- Severe breathing difficulties
- Blue skin or lips
- Unusually sleepy
- Drooling and unable to swallow
- A recurrence of symptoms the next evening
If needed, painkiller options include the following:
- Paracetamol is usually recommended for painful sprains or strains.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and may also limit inflammation and swelling. You can buy some types (for example, ibuprofen) at pharmacies, without a prescription either topically as a cream, or as tablets
If this does not help, you may need an additional stronger painkiller – such as codeine – you should discuss this with your pharmacist or GP.
- The James Cook University Hospital, Marton Road, Middlesbrough, TS4 3BW
Telephone: 01642 850850
- The Friarage, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 1JG
Telephone: 01609 779911
- Redcar Primary Care Hospital, West Dyke Road, Redcar, TS10 4NW
Telephone: 01642 511000
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.