A contagious disease, croup is generally found in children between the age group of three and six. It is at time of growing up that the windpipe is small, soft and less powerful, which makes the young children most susceptible to the disease. Croup causes an inflammation of the upper airways i.e. the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). Also known as laryngotracheitis, the disease is mainly caused due to a viral infection, leading to a barking cough or hoarseness, especially when a child cries. In this condition, the airway swells up and gets partially blocked with mucus. This blockage leads to a partial collapse of the airway when a child breathes, resulting in breathing difficulties and a characteristic harsh barking cough.
Airborne infectious droplets sneezed or coughed into the air, by an infected child, come in contact with a healthy child and lead to the spread of the disease. The infection can also be spread by infected mucus deposited on doors, furniture, toys, and other objects. Talking about the symptoms of croup, it usually starts with a runny nose and sore throat. Similar to that of common cold, the symptoms later develop to form hoarse barking cough, hoarse voice and noisy breathing. Difficulty in breathing is also seen. These symptoms are likely to upset the child, which may result in his/her crying. However, as parents, you should prevent your kid from weeping, as crying and being upset worsens the problem of barking cough and noisy breathing.
Croup generally strikes at night, when the air is cooler. It usually settles within a couple of hours. The attacks are worse in the first few days of the illness. The disease is mostly caused by parainfluenza virus, adenovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). While most cases of viral croup are mild and can be treated at home, some can be really severe and at times, even life-threatening. Spasmodic croup, on the other hand, refers to a type of croup that develops quickly and may strike a child with a mild cold. Fever is unlikely to come in case of spasmodic croup. To get detailed information on the signs and symptoms of croup, browse through the following lines.
Signs & Symptoms Of Croup
General Symptoms of Croup
- Harsh, high-pitched respiratory sound (called stridor)
- Brassy, barking cough
- Hoarse cry
- Difficulty breathing
Symptoms of Viral Croup
- Low-grade fever
- Rattling sounds while exhaling
- Scattered crackles in the chest
Symptoms of Spasmodic Croup
- Runny nose
- Noisy inhalation
- Rapid pulse
- Clammy skin
- Labored breathing with retractions (chest sinking in)
Symptoms of Infectious Laryngitis
- Sore throat
- Loss of voice
Symptoms of Epiglottitis
- Serious difficulty in breathing
- Painful swallowing
- Rapid heart rate
- Bluish coloring around the lips and mouth
- Inability to bend the neck forward
Note: The symptoms of croup are never consistent and fluctuate rapidly. While a child's breathing may be normal at one time, it can grow loud and uncomforting in the next hour.