Croup is a severe type of infection that strikes the upper part of the respiratory tract and causes swelling as well as inflammation in the region lower than the vocal cords. This condition is more widespread in children, especially those in the age group of 3 months to 3 years. Before your child develops croup, he/ she may possibly suffer from an infection of the upper respiratory tract, for instance, a sore throat, sinus infection, or a cold. Almost in all cases, croup is attributable to a viral infection that may also strike the membranes above as well as below the larynx (also called the voice box). Like in the case of several other viral infections, croup also occurs most often during the fall as well as winter.
You can differentiate croup by its symptoms, which include a grating, barking cough accompanied by breathing problems and a low-pitched, harsh gasping sound while the patient inhales each time. The swelling and inflammation of the larynx causes such symptoms. The viral infection is also likely to augment the production of mucus that may block the air passage. Although croup is generally not a fatal ailment, it is one of the most scarring as well as horrible ailments that one may have in his/ her childhood.
The symptoms of this viral infection may vary from being mild to serious. The patient may experience breathing problems or his/ her breathing may become faster. In addition, the muscles located amid the ribs may repress when you child breathes in, and it may seem that your child would require working hard to simply breathe. As being in an upright posture makes breathing easier, it is likely that your child would have a preference to sit straight in his/ her bed or would like to be held in an upright position. In addition to these symptoms, you child may also suffer from congestion and fever.
Infants suffering from croup usually wake up in the midst of the night. A bout of croup may continue for many hours, settle down and occur again during the next few nights. While usually croup does not continue for more than three days, it may possibly turn out to be a chronic ailment.
It may be noted that many other health conditions can imitate this viral infection. For instance, an infant who is suffocating may possibly also suffer from a cough akin to that in the case of croup. Nevertheless, a child who is suffocating owing to any blockage in the air passage may produce frenzied, shrill sounds, but not talk in a normal manner, while an infant having croup will have the capability to talk in the middle of coughing bouts. Moreover, the symptoms related to croup resemble those of severe epiglottis - a bacterial infection that advances very fast.
Specific herbal remedies as well as nutritional supplements are effective in treating croup and alleviating the symptoms of this viral infection. Your child will benefit if he/ she is given an herbal tea using licorice, marshmallow root, osha root and mullein in equal proportions twice every day till the time the symptoms of this viral infection remain. While marshmallow root reduces inflammation and smears over as well as alleviates the irritated throat, mullein aids in encouraging expectoration and provides relief to the inflamed respiratory tract. The herb osha aids in clearing the lungs, whereas licorice possesses anti-inflammatory as well as antiviral attributes and makes the tea sweet to taste.
It may be noted here that children with high blood pressure should not be given licorice.
Aromatherapy is also helpful in treating croup as well as easing the symptoms of this condition. A number of essential oils are effective for treating croup in infants and they include basil, eucalyptus, thyme, rosemary and marjoram.
You may also use homeopathic remedies to help your child in recuperating from croup. The appropriate homeopathic remedies should be used in the potency of 6, 12, or 30th as frequently as the symptoms may necessitate. These remedies may be given at hourly intervals or more frequently if the disease is in a severe stage.
In addition to using conventional medicaments, homeopathic remedies, taking herbal remedies and dietary supplements and using aromatherapy, doing a few more things will help croup patients to cure their condition as well as provide relief from the symptoms of this viral infection.
For instance, your child suffering from croup will benefit if you take him/her to the bathroom, close the door and open the hot shower. Remain in the bathroom, not in the shower or tub, for about 15 to minutes. The warm damp air in the bathroom ought to reduce the inflammation in the air passage and make it easier for the child to breathe. Alternately, you might also try cool damp air by covering up your child with a light blanket and then taking him/ her outside, exposing them to the night air. Instead of taking the little one out at night, you can also do this by opening the deep freezer or putting on the air conditioner and let the child inhale the air for some minutes.
Moreover, you may take your suffering child for a stroll in a baby carriage in your backyard or around the block for about 15 minutes. When you take them for a walk like this, it will enable them to obtain some fresh air, which may be of help to them. However, before taking the child outdoors, ensure that the weather conditions are not extreme and the child has been dressed up properly.
When your child has developed croup, it is more important to give him/ her liquid food compared to anything solid. It is preferable that you give your child some tepid apple juice to keep him/ her hydrated and also slacken the mucus. It is a good idea to give your child Gatorade, water and fruit juice and ensure that they are taking these fluids in adequate amounts. In addition, you may also give chamomile tea added with honey to your child who is suffering from croup, as this will help to alleviate the inflamed and throbbing throat. However, be careful that you do not give honey to an infant who is below the age of one year.
It would also be excellent if you use a humidifier in the bedroom of your suffering child, as it will help to make the air in the room further damp. In fact, various dissimilar types of scents and humidifiers are available and you can choose from them to make the air in the room moister as well as aromatic. Provided the weather conditions allow, you may also open the window of the bedroom to allow some cool and fresh breeze to fill the room.
In case you child also has fever, you should go to the neighbourhood pharmacy and purchase some Tylenol that is meant for infants and children. This medication is available in drops for babies and may be in a flavoured liquid form for children. While lowering the fever is very important, before you give the child any medication, it is essential that you talk to your physician or pharmacist regarding the appropriate dosage for the child.
When your child is suffering from croup, it is important that you ensure that you help him/ her to get adequate sleep. Sleeping well enables the child's immune system to accumulate its entire energy and fight against anything that is responsible for his/ her ailment. A child who is two or three years old should get 12 hours of sleep, in addition to two to three hours nap on average. If you help your child to get adequate rest and feel relaxed, it will not only speed up the time required for their recovery, but will also help them to get back to their usual active and lively individuality even faster.
While your child is still struggling with croup, it would be a good idea if you also slept with him/ her in the same bedroom. Generally, the bouts of cough occur during the night (although the symptom improves at day time) and when you are sleeping in the same bedroom with your suffering child, it will enable you to alleviate his/ her uneasiness in a better way in case his/ her symptoms deteriorate.
You also need to keep the suffering child in a vertical posture at least for some time, because doing so will help the child breathe more easily. You may place your child in a seat meant for infants or put him/ her in their preferred 'big-girl' chair. Moreover, you may also like to use some additional pillows in the child's bed with a view to buttress the child at night. However, if the croup patient is an infant, you need to put the pillows below the mattress of the baby's bed.
It is important that you don't panic over the suffering of your child. When you are coping with children suffering from croup, you need to do all things possible to keep them calm, as crying may make breathing all the more difficult. For instance, you may cuddle your child or read stories or sing to them with a view to keep them relaxed.
In case the croup developed by your child is more severe than ever or the condition does not appear to improve even after undertaking the above mentioned measures, it is very likely that your pediatrician will recommend epinephrine, steroids or any bronchodilator to reduce the swelling in the air passages and make it easier for the child to breathe. If it is detected that your child is suffering from a bacterial infection - something very unusual in situations like croup in children, your physician will most possibly prescribe antibiotics.
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