Croup - Idaho Falls Pediatrician

Croup, the children’s cough

Croup, also known as laryngotracheitis, subglottic laryngitis and obstructive laryngitis is a pediatric respiratory problem often caused by acute viral infection of the voice box, vocal cords and trachea. It is highly contagious. Croup is sometimes mistaken as Epiglottitis due to the similarities between symptoms. Though Epiglottitis gets severe much faster than croup and has a few varying symptoms such as looking very ill and drooling. Rarely caused by bacteria, a type of croup is also known as laryngeal diphtheria, bacterial tracheitis, laryngotracheobronchitis, and laryngotracheobronchopneumonitis. Laryngeal diphtheria is caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae while bacterial tracheitis. Laryngotracheobronchitis, and laryngotracheobronchopneumonitis are caused by a main viral infection and secondary bacterial growth. Affecting mostly children from the ages of six months to three years old, croup is almost never found in teenagers or adults. Toddlers and children contracting croup in Idaho Falls is a fairly common occurrence. During the winter months when weather is extreme; colds, flus, and other respiratory conditions are prevalent among conditions treated by The Pediatric Center.

How Children Get Croup in Idaho Falls

Rare in adults croup is usually contracted by young children between ages of six months and 3 years. Croup is normally caused by a primary viral infection or contact with someone who is affected. After the child is infected they become extremely contagious to other children and toddlers. Often transferred when coughing or from mucus and saliva, it can be bothersome and possibly severe enough for a trip to the E.R. Infection from a parainfluenza virus (type 1, 2 and 3) is most common way to contract croup and make up 75% of diagnosed cases. The parainfluenza virus is also a very common respiratory illness found in children and toddlers, but can be contracted by anyone. It can also be transferred through a few other pathogens such as influenza A and B, adenovirus, measles, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Other possible causes include bacteria, inhaled irritants and even acid reflux. Being especially vulnerable during the harsh winter croup in Idaho Falls is fairly common also.

Croup Symptoms

Croup is categorized by a harsh cough that sounds much like the bark of a seal or dog. Hoarseness, itching, and difficulty breathing are caused by inflammation and mucus in the air passages. Because of inflammation in the tissues around the larynx, mucus blockages, and constricted bronchial tubes; a hollow raspy noise produced called stridor is emitted during exhalation of air from the child’s lungs. More common than not, the symptoms of croup in Idaho Falls become worse at night, and in most cases last from five to six days and can cause swelling of the the throat. Often times the child must be taken to cool air or a hot shower to open airways. As croup can manifest secondary to a pre-existing cold or flu, with fever being another common symptom of the croup infection.

Treatment of Croup in Idaho Falls

Ideally, physicians recommend home care for most croup cases and urge parents to seek emergency medical intervention for the most serious cases. While battling croup in Idaho Falls; Typically, management of croup can be done at home with humidifiers, steam therapy, or cool mist. These therapies lubricate the child’s breathing passages and dissolve dried or sticky mucus for easier expulsion from the breathing passages. The Pediatric Center’s physicians also recommend sleeping in the same room with your child, as the symptoms of croup worsen at night. (If your child’s symptoms worsen, seek immediate medical attention!) In the clinical setting, croup may be treated with steroids or oral corticosteroids that alleviate tissue swelling and inflammation. In severe cases, inhaled racemic epinephrine may be administered. If the child’s oxygen saturation falls below 92%, emergency intervention is required and includes chest x-rays, oxygen therapy (with mask, ‘blow-by’, or in extreme cases endotracheal intubation with ventilation), and hospitalization.

Croup Prevention Measures

The extreme winter weather and the elevated risk of exposure to colds and flus have a major bearing on croup in Idaho Falls. Active prevention is key to keep from spreading this contagious illness. Most commonly, the development of croup is secondary to a flu or cold virus. Basic hand washing is the first line of defense for colds, flus, and in turn croup. Arming your children with regular, proper, and effective hand washing techniques is pivotal in preventing a wide array of illnesses including croup. Added to regular hand washing, keeping your children away from other adults and children who are sick greatly reduces their chances of contracting croup. Also, consider limiting your child’s exposure to other respiratory irritants such as dust, smoke, cold air, and allergens. Lastly, having your child immunized and keeping your child current on vaccines reduces risk and helps in the prevention of croup. Contact The Pediatric Center, for more information on croup prevention, treatment, and immunizations.

Image credit: By Frank GaillardOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6792682