My Child Has Croup - What Do I Do Next?

What is Croup?

Croup is a viral respiratory infection that primarily affects young children, usually between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. It's characterised by a distinctive barking cough, hoarseness, and difficulty breathing. Croup is typically caused by the parainfluenza virus, but other viruses can also be responsible.

Common Symptoms of Croup

  1. Barking Cough: The hallmark of croup is a cough that sounds like a barking seal. This cough is often more pronounced at night.

  2. Hoarseness: Children with croup may have a hoarse or raspy voice due to inflammation of the vocal cords.

  3. Stridor: Stridor is a high-pitched, noisy breathing sound that occurs when a child inhales. It's caused by the narrowing of the airways.

  4. Fever: Some children with croup may have a mild fever.

  5. Difficulty Breathing: In severe cases, croup can lead to breathing difficulties, rapid breathing, and retractions (pulling in of the chest wall).

Croup Treatment

Most cases of croup are mild and can be managed at home. However, it's essential to seek medical advice, especially if your child has severe symptoms or breathing difficulties. Here are some steps you can take for home care:

  1. Stay Calm: Comfort your child to help reduce anxiety, which can worsen symptoms.

  2. Use a Humidifier: A cool mist humidifier in your child's room can help ease breathing.

  3. Go Outside: In cooler weather, taking your child outside may help reduce airway swelling.

  4. Encourage Fluids: Ensure your child stays well-hydrated.

  5. Elevate the Head: Elevating the head of the bed slightly can make breathing easier.

In more severe cases, your child may require treatment in a healthcare setting. This can include the administration of steroids or inhaled epinephrine to reduce airway inflammation and improve breathing.

Telehealth for Croup Management

Telehealth services offered by TeleDoc Australia can be invaluable when dealing with croup, especially if you're in a remote location or need immediate advice. Here's how telehealth can assist you:

  1. Remote Consultations: Schedule a virtual appointment with a telehealth doctor online who can assess your child's condition using video-conference. They can provide further guidance on home care or advise you on when to seek in-person care.

  2. Medication Management: Telehealth doctor at TeleDoc routinely manage children with croup and can prescribe e-scripts for medications like steroids, which can be picked up at your local pharmacy.

  3. Symptom Monitoring: Keep healthcare providers updated on your child's symptoms, such as cough severity, stridor, or fever, through telehealth platforms.

  4. Emergency Response: In the event of severe breathing difficulties, a telehealth consultation can guide you on what immediate steps to take while waiting for further medical assistance.

Conclusion

Croup can be a worrisome condition for parents, but with the right information and care, it's generally manageable. If your child is experiencing croup symptoms or you have concerns about their respiratory health, don't hesitate to reach out to us for a virtual consultation. Our experienced telehealth GPs can offer guidance, reassurance, and treatment options to ensure your child's well-being.

Remember, when it comes to childhood illnesses like croup, early intervention and professional guidance are key to a speedy recovery.

Written and reviewed by Dr Ahmad Zeeshan.