A GP can diagnose croup by studying your child's symptoms, particularly the sound of their cough. They may also check your child's temperature for a fever and ask whether they have recently had a cold or viral infection.
In some cases, a pulse oximetry test may be carried out. This involves clipping a sensor onto your child's earlobe or finger to find out their oxygen levels.
The test does not hurt and should not distress your child, and determines whether your child is absorbing enough oxygen into their blood.
Your GP will decide whether your child needs to be admitted to hospital or whether their croup is safe to treat at home.
You should not try to check your child's throat yourself, because it could trigger a spasm (sudden narrowing) of the airway. This could cause the airway to swell even more, making breathing even more difficult.
Croup can usually be diagnosed by studying your childs symptoms, but your GP may want to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
Other possible causes for your childs symptoms are:
In very rare cases, epiglottitis (inflammation of the epiglottis) or tracheitis (inflammation of the windpipe) can cause similar symptoms to croup. In these cases, however, your child will usually feel very unwell generally, rather than just having the specific symptoms of croup.
Differentiating these causes from croup may require further tests.
If your child is admitted to hospital with severe croup, or if treatment is unsuccessful, further investigations may be needed to examine their neck and chest area for a possible obstruction.
An X-ray may be recommended if it is thought your child may have inhaled something and it is obstructing their airway.
Croup is a childhood condition that affects the windpipe (trachea), the airways to the lungs (the bronchi) and the voice box (larynx).
Information about croup symptoms, including bark-like cough, difficulty breathing and rasping breath (stridor).
Information on the causes of croup, including flu viruses. The infection causes the larynx (voice box) to become swollen and the trachea (windpipe) to become blocked.
A GP can diagnose croup by studying your child's symptoms, particularly the sound of their cough. Croup typically causes a barking cough and rasping breathing (stridor).
The treatment of croup depends on how severe the symptoms are. Most cases do not need treating as the condition usually gets better on its own.
Complications that develop as a result of croup are rare.