Though I’ve been around the croup block at least five times now, it’s always scary. My littlest, who is two years old, comes down with croup every time she catches a cold. It’s become predictable, but still, I hate it. As soon as I hear her coughing at night, the fear curls up in my stomach like a snake as I race up the stairs trying to catch her before she gets too worked up and her airways constrict.
If your baby or toddler is experiencing a deep, hoarse cough and sounds like they are struggling to take in air, he may have croup. Babycenter.com has an example of what croup sounds like as well as a list of symptoms and a detailed explanation about the illness. Regardless of whether your lovey has a croupy cough or not, you should take her to the pediatrician as soon as you can to get a diagnosis, and medication if appropriate.
Additionally, these steps can ease your child’s discomfort:
1. Do your best to keep your baby from being upset and crying. When he cries, his airways will constrict and make breathing difficulties worse.
2. Croup flares up at night. In order to avoid a bad coughing bout, I give my daughter a dose of ibuprofen about 30-60 minutes before bedtime. This helps reduce inflammation. You could also do this during the day, but abide by dosing instructions on the package.
3. I also put a cold-mist humidifier in her room at full steam power and leave it running all night long with the bedroom door closed. The humid, cold air helps relax airways as well. (If you don’t have a one, get this awesome humidifier for kids. It’s shaped like an elephant, it’s super quiet, and delivers loads of steam and can directed at a specific location. However, you do need to put it on top of a small table or stand for it to work best.)
4. Make sure your child is comfortably warm, but not overheated.
5. If your child has a bad coughing attack with shortness of breath, take her into the bathroom. Close the door and blast your shower on hot to quickly steam up the room. Stay in there until her breathing becomes normal.
6. If you’re concerned about your child’s breathing, you should seek immediate medical attention. Dr. Sear’s article on croup gives you a good idea on when to treat at home and when it’s time to head to the ER.
Last Thanksgiving, we had to take my littlest, Marissa, to urgent care because her breathing was so labored, she was drooling – which meant she was having trouble swallowing, and we couldn’t calm her down.
The medical staff measured the level of oxygen in her blood with a machine that went around her finger (similar to how blood pressure is taken). The staff walked on eggshells to avoid making her cry and gave us a nebulizer – a small machine that directs medicated steam toward the nostrils – to use on her until her oxygen levels returned to normal. They sent us home with a liquid steroid treatment to further reduce the inflammation. In addition to receiving the steroid medication at urgent care, we’ve also had it prescribed for Marissa by our pediatrician too. Honestly, it kicks croup booty overnight and let’s everyone sleep better.