A croup is nothing but spasmodic barking cough and hoarseness caused due to inflammation of upper respiratory tract organs, namely larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe). Spasmodic croup is relatively common in children between the ages of 2 to 4 years. It rarely occurs after 5 to 6 years of age.
It is called spasmodic because the laryngeal inflammation is sudden, almost invariably during the night and is preceded by mild common cold. The organism responsible for croup is a virus which causes influenza and common cold. The infection mainly occurs in winter months.Boys are more prone to this condition than girls.
Spasmodic croup is usually self limited but often a recurrent syndrome. The spasm of upper respiratory organs is out of proportion to that of the inflammation. Certain children are especially predisposed to spasmodic croup and in some instances there is familial predisposition. Majority cases of spasmodic croup can be treated with home remedies. Rarely a croup can be serious and life threatening problem.
Signs And Symptoms Of Spasmodic Croup
The symptoms of spasmodic croup are preceded by mild running nose and hoarseness for few hours.As the voice box and upper airway organs become inflamed, the child may have slightly raised temperature with somewhat croupy cough. As inflammation increases the child may wake up with a characteristic barking, metallic cough and noisy inspiration.
The peculiar croup sounds similar to the way a seal barks. He sits up in bed struggling for breath, obviously frightened and often grasps at his throat because of feeling of oppression and impending suffocation. While inhaling air a high pitched noise is heard this is called stridor. His face becomes red and congested with an anxious expression. Sometimes his lips become blue due to lack of circulating oxygen.
The chest movements are quick with each stridulous inspiration. The voice becomes hoarse with rapid pulse and moist skin. Usually spasmodic croup becomes worse at night or when the child is crying or excited. After several hours the severity of spasm diminishes. By morning the spasms have largely disappeared and only mild hoarseness and loose cough remain. Sometimes the attack may continue during next night.
Spasmodic Croup Natural Treatment
Spasmodic croup usually is a self limited disease; however, the symptoms are frightening for both parents as well as for the child. The first step is to make the child comfortable and reassure him. The child may become breathless and therefore he requires close monitoring. Parents should therefore sleep near the child during night.
Bring the child outside the house in cool atmosphere. The other important home treatment is steam inhalation. Since the child may be too small to inhale steam, taking him in a steamy bathroom may help to reduce the intensity of croup.
A cool humidifier placed near the child is beneficial as it helps to reduce the swelling of larynx and thus alleviate symptoms of spasmodic croup. Encourage the child to drink plenty of fluids. During this period child is fussy therefore a Popsicle which is liked by all children will be useful. Fluid intake helps to thin the mucus collected in nose and throat. It facilitates the child to breath easily. Do not give the child milk or coffee or tea as this will worsen the croup symptoms.
It is important to reduce child’s anxiety and crying as both are triggers for producing spasmodic croup. Distract his attention to activities like playing games or tell a story. Let the child be as comfortable as possible. If the child is extremely uncomfortable and the symptoms are severe, consult your doctor. He may recommend steroid inhalers or nebulization for quick relief.