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Croup, which is marked by a harsh, repetitive cough similar to the noise of a seal barking, can be scary for both children and their parents. After all, attacks of croup may jar your children awake at night and leave them gasping for breath. The harsh, barking cough of croup is the result of swelling around the vocal cords (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). When the cough reflex forces air through this narrowed passage, the vocal cords vibrate with a barking noise. Because children have small airways to begin with, those younger than age 5 are most susceptible to having more symptoms with croup. Croup usually isn't serious. In fact, for most cases, croup can be treated at home. Sometimes, your child will need prescription medication.
Complications of Croup
Most cases of croup are mild. Rarely, the airway swells enough to interfere with breathing. Ear infection and pneumonia are other rare but potentially serious complications.
Causes of Croup
Signs & Symptoms of Croup
The classic sign of croup is a loud, harsh, barking cough — which often comes in bursts at night. Your child's breathing may be labored or noisy. Fever and a hoarse voice are common, too.
Diagnosis of Croup
Croup is typically diagnosed based on signs, symptoms and a physical exam. The doctor will observe your child's breathing, listen to your child's chest with a stethoscope and examine your child's throat. Sometimes X-rays or other tests are used to help make the diagnosis.
Treatments of Croup
Prevention of Croup
When to seek Medical Advice
Most cases of croup can be treated at home with a few simple self-care measures. However, you should seek immediate medical attention if your child:
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