Dealing with Croup

Croup is another common childhood infection that tends to affect older children more than newborns. However, when a young baby comes down with croup, the condition is more serious. Croup is caused by a virus that is somewhat related to the flu virus. Just as with the flu, children with croup also have fever and a severe cough.


How can I tell if my child has croup or the flu?

The cough associated with croup typically has a very distinct quality — it is “barky,” and your child may sound like a seal when coughing. However, not all children develop the characteristic barky cough, and the fever associated with croup can last just as long as a fever caused by the flu virus.

If you have an infant younger than six months who has a barky cough, it is important for his pediatrician to evaluate him for other respiratory problems. Croup can lead to a bacterial pneumonia secondarily, which is usually manifested when the fever fails to resolve after four days or with a worsening of the cough. If your child is older than two years, it is reasonable to administer over-the-counter cough suppressant to relieve the symptoms. If the cough lasts for more than two weeks, your pediatrician should evaluate your child.

Since croup is caused by a virus, antibiotics are useless against it. But if there is evidence of pneumonia, the use of antibiotics may be necessary.

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