Croup strikes the house

My son recently had a case of croup that scared us pretty bad. It began with a mild cough that got progressively worse. By bedtime he was clearly pretty miserable and we brought him to sleep with us. We kept him propped up in bed because that seemed to help him breathe. He still didn’t do very well and was wheezing like a leaky bellows. Occasionally he sounded like he was choking and we’d both sit bolt upright and start whacking him on the back. That’d clear it for a second and he’d get a good cough and go back to sleep for another fifteen minutes. He also had a pretty bad fever which we treated with acetaminophen infant drops.

Not having any prior experience with these symptoms we just kept him home from school the next day and kept him under close observation. He seemed to have recovered completely and had a good long nap without any breathing problems. I decided not to take him to the doctor thinking that the worst had passed. However, come bedtime he was huffing and puffing all over again. We spent another sleepless night watching him like a hawk and I took him to the doctor in the morning.

Here are the things I learned from the doctor that should be in the children’s operator manual:

  • Croup is caused by a virus lodging in the throat and causing the tissues there to be inflamed and swell
  • It can impair breathing to a dangerous degree and needs to be treated immediately
  • It can be identified by the raspy wheezing sound during inhalation. (Bronchiolitis is similar but you hear the wheeze on exhalation).
  • The fever that attends it may need both acetaminophen and ibuprofen taken alternately in order to keep it under control, so have both in the cabinet just incase
  • Steroids given orally can dramatically reduce the swelling in the throat and remove the danger
  • It always gets worse around bedtime and seems to clear up during the day

After a two day course of steroids, cheratussin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen as directed by our pediatrician he was right as rain. It sure was scary though! Next time one of the kids is wheezing (inspiration or expiration) and has a fever I’m taking them to the doctor or after-hours clinic right away because chances are it’s either croup or bronchiolitis and needs to be treated.

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