Croupy cough (croup) is a condition when a child coughs heavily and the sound is barky and raspy. Croup is a viral infection which usually affects young children. Cause of the croup, beside a virus, can be an allergy. A swelling of the vocal cords appears as a consequence of the infection and this makes the air passage so narrow that the child can have difficulties when breathing. Croup can last up to six days and the condition is worse during the night. It can start unexpectedly with a barky cough or in some cases gradually when the symptoms are similar to a common cold.
The symptoms of the croup are barky or gruff cough which appears suddenly, heavy breathing sometimes followed by a harsh and gasp sound while inhaling, throaty or husky voice if the swelling bothers the vocal cords and the child can have a fever but generally it is under 104. The croup is not serious if these symptoms are mild and your child is not frightened or upset by the sudden outbursts of the heavy cough and the breathing is normal. However, if the child has a lot of difficulties while breathing, especially with a strong hoarse sound, he/she is anxious and nervous or can not sleep, you should see your doctor for treatment.
Such unexpected outbreaks of the cough can scare the child and it is important that you calm him/her down because crying can worsen the condition. Humid air can be very helpful in relieving the symptoms. You can turn on the hot water in your bathroom and close the door. This will make a steam which can ease the coughing in a very short time. You should put a vaporizer or air humidifier in the child's room in order to make the air cooler. Dry air can make the condition worse. If it is cool outside, you can also take your child outside for some cool, fresh air to ease the symptoms.You should visit a doctor if the child becomes very pale, runs out of breath or struggles for air. The doctor will have to check the level of oxygen in the blood first. Depending on the severity of the condition, the doctor will ease the cough with a special vaporizer or in some cases a steroid injection must be given especially if the child is not able to swallow a pill. These injection if not harmful and it will help the air passage to stay open.Coughing can be devastating if not taken care of.