Croup is a viral infection that attacks the vocal chords and causes swelling. A fever of less than 104 degrees Fahrenheit usually accompanies this virus, along with the hoarse sounding cough. While it is typically not dangerous, it can cause the vocal chords to swell so badly that breathing is obstructed. When this occurs, the child is typically given steroids to reduce the inflammation. It occurs in children under 6 years old and most get it at least a few times in their life. It is just as contagious as the common cold, so if your child is in daycare, they are much more likely to get it.
Older children tend to ward off croup much easier than babies, but it can become serious very quickly, no matter who has it. Some signs that the croup is serious and warrants an immediate trip to the emergency room are:
- Your child develops rapid, labored breathing
- breathing retractions in which you can see a deep indentation in the collar bone when the child breathes, or being able to see the child's ribs when they breathe in
- Stridor, which is a high pitch squeaking noise when the child inhales
- Bluish color around the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sick appearance
No matter what, if you think that your child has a cough that sounds serious, call the doctor. It never hurts to have your child checked out.