Croup isa childhood condition that affects the windpipe (trachea), the airways to the lungs (the bronchi) and the voice box (larynx).

Childrenwith croup have a distinctive barking cough andwill make a harsh sound, known as stridor, when they breathe in.

They may also have ahoarse voice and find it difficult to breathe because their airway is blocked.

Croup can usually be diagnosed by a GP and treated at home. However, if your childs symptoms are severe and they are finding it difficult to breathe, take them to the nearest hospitals accident and emergency (A&E) department.

Several viruses can cause croup but in most cases it is the parainfluenza virus.

Adults can also get croup but this is rare.

The condition is more common during thelate autumn and early winter months.

Ittends to affect more boys than girls.

A child may experience croup more than once during childhood.

Treating croup

Most cases of croup are mild and can be treated at home. Sitting your child upright and comforting them if they are distressed is important, because crying may make symptoms worse. Your child should also drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Asingle dose of an oral corticosteroid medication called dexamethasone or prednisolone will usually also be prescribed to help reduce the swelling in the throat.

If your child has breathing problems they may need hospital treatment, such as adrenaline and oxygen through a mask.

However, in some cases symptoms can last for up totwoweeks.

It is extremely rare for a child to die from croup.

There are a number of conditions thatcan followcroup, such as Pneumonia and middle ear infection .

These include:

  • MMR protection from measles, mumps and rubella
  • DTaP/IPV/Hib protection from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 9 Jan 2017