The larynx (vocal cords) or trachea (windpipe) narrows because infection causes the walls to swell inward. There is difficulty in breathing; hoarseness; tightness in the lungs; a harsh, barking cough; and even a feeling of suffocation. Because their air pipes are smaller, croup most often occurs in children.
The special symptom of croup is a harsh, wheezing noise as air is breathed in through the narrowed windpipe and past the inflamed vocal cords, often accompanied by fits of coughing.
Croup can be caused by bacteria or viruses
When caused by a bacteria, croup generally follows a cold or another mild respiratory infection. But when it is caused by a virus (as happens more often, especially in boys), more serious conditions, such as the flu, have occurred.
Croup most often occurs during the winter months, and most frequently affects children from 3 months to 3 years (9 to 18 months is the peak).
TREATMENT HOME REMEDIES
- Maintain a good water intake, to help loosen secretions. Only drink lukewarm water. If
the child is told to drink a glass of water after each coughing attack, the coughs will stop after the third or fourth glass. Water is the best cough medicine.
- Use a vaporizer or humidifier at night, or put a pan of water or tea kettle on a hot plate. This will help keep the air moist for the child through the night.
- Try to have someone stay with the child. If he is too anxious, you may find it best to hold him for a time. This will reassure him.
- Avoid sudden temperature changes. Keep the child warm, but avoid overheating.
- During the day, you might wish to put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a vaporizer; and, for a time, have him inhale the vapor.
- Echinacea, fenugreek, goldenseal, and thyme are helpful herbs.
- Homemade soups and broths are good for the child.
- Fomentations to the neck and upper chest region bring relief. After the acute phase, a heating compress may be applied to the chest.
- You can apply hot onion packs over the chest and back 3 times a day. Place sliced onions between cloths, and cover with a heating pad.
- Steroids and antibiotics are useless if this is a viral sickness. Do not use cough medicines and other colds preparations, for they tend to thicken the secretions (anti-congestants are always drying agents) and make it still harder to clear the throat.
When croup keeps reoccurring, the cause may well be that the child is allergic to some type of food. Try to ascertain what it might be.
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