Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Could my son have croup?"
My son is 5 years old and has developed what I though was a cold. His cough sounds strange though and I'm nervous that it could be croup. How can this be treated? Do we just have to wait until the infection clears up or should he go see the doctor too?
Croup is a very common viral infection usually caused by the same types of viruses that cause the common cold. In croup, specifically, the virus affects the tissue of the voice box and trachea, which results in some swelling and a harsh, "barking" cough. Croup is much more common in toddlers and infants, but it can occasionally occur in children as old as 5 years. Many times, croup does not require any specific medications to clear up. Usually treatments like using humidified air at home to ease the cough, drinking lots of fluids, and taking medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever or discomfort are enough. However, some cases of croup are very serious and can result in trouble breathing for your son, requiring more intensive medical treatment and, sometimes, even hospitalization. For this reason, it is best to take your child to your pediatrician to be evaluated. They will be able to carefully examine how your child is breathing and help you decide whether this is a serious case of croup or not. Based on what they find, they will make a recommendation as to whether your child can be treated safely at home or not. Go see your pediatrician today!
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