Treating Croup

It starts as a cold … And then one night, you hear your child coughing in a way that sounds more like a bark. Chances are, it’s the croup. Severe cases can land kids in the hospital for days. Researchers have found a fast and effective way to treat croup.

Croup is an infection of the upper airway. Tissues just below the vocal cords swell, obstructing air flow and causing a distinct, barking cough. In mild cases, a steam-filled bathroom can help kids breathe easier.

Pediatrician: “If things aren’t improving over the course of a half-hour to an hour or if the child is really looking as if they’re having marked respiratory difficulty, trouble breathing, they might be a little bit blue around the lips, certainly those children need to come into the hospital immediately.”

Usually kids with croup are given a drug which reduces swelling in the throat. It’s not tolerated well by a child who’s having trouble breathing. An alternative called budesonide, a drug they say works faster and is easier to administer.

This drug has the advantage that we can wave a mist in their face and they’ll breathe some of it in, rather than trying to force them to take something by mouth or giving them a needle, which ought to make any child with croup a little bit more agitated.

The researchers say budesonide can be used safely even in milder cases of croup…and since one dose lasts several days, fewer children would need to be admitted into the hospital in the first place.

A child with severe croup should be taken to the emergency room anyway. There are medications currently available that can help.

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