What Is Croup Cough? 7 Vital Facts To Know

What is croup cough? Croup cough is caused by a viral infection that affects babies’ air passage, which is situated below the voice box larynx.

Children cough due to difficulty breathing, and milder cases include barking cough. This context will explain croup cough and its risks.

1. What is Croup Cough

Most parents and adults do not know what is croup cough. They make mistakes when treating croup in the early stages. This viral infection causes trouble breathing as swelling affects the lower and upper airways. Croup cough begins with a slight cough, but mild croup symptoms include a barking cough, noisy breathing, and a hoarse voice.

2. What Causes Croup Cough

While analyzing what croup cough is and what the causing agents are, scientists and medics found the following viruses are the cause of croup cough in children:

2.1. Parainfluenza Virus

Major croup cough is caused by the Parainfluenza virus, which targets the upper and lower airways and causes illness. Children are not only affected by this virus but also by adults who have a low immune system. For adults, it affects the upper airways and causes bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and croup.

2.2. Influenza Virus

The influenza virus, also known as the flu, affects the lungs, nose, and throat. It can be fatal for younger children, pregnant women, and old adults who are already suffering from breathing problems and the ones with low immunity.

2.3. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

The respiratory syncytial virus is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes major infections in the respiratory passage, such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under one year of birth.

2.4. Adenoviruses

Adenoviruses exist in 50 different variants and are known to be highly contagious, especially in winter. These viruses cause various respiratory ailments, including croup cough, runny nose, sore throat, pink eye (conjunctivitis), bronchitis, and pneumonia.

2.5. Rhinovirus

Rhinovirus mostly causes the common cold and can easily increase in the air. So, if one person catches a cold, others who stay with that person may show cold symptoms. Catching a cold is common; the problem is the allergic reaction that swells the upper airway.

what is croup cough
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Most children, especially children aged between 3 months and 5 years, are more prone to croup symptoms compared with adults; this is due to the air passage, which is not as wide as adults have. In rare cases, adults are affected by croup.

4. Is Croup Cough Contagious

Yes. Croup cough is contagious and spreads via direct contact with an infected person or through the air. Whenever a person who has been infected with this virus sneezes or coughs, the tiny air droplets tend to spread to nearby areas.

A healthy individual becomes infected only when the virus enters the body by touching the infected areas, then the eyes, nose, and mouth.

If you have more than one child, then there is a greater chance that other children, including older children, can be infected with croup cough.

5. Symptoms Of Croup

Parents fail to recognize a croup cough and mistake it for a normal cough. Croup cough is similar to a normal cough but gets even more severe in three to seven days. Your child wakes up often from sleep because the barking cough or croup becomes worse at night. There are a few common symptoms through which parents can diagnose croup:

  • In the initial days, there will be minor breathing problems
  • Severe coughing and noisy breathing, there is a harsh sound that resembles a seal’s bark
  • Laboured breathing, your child feels extreme discomfort inhaling and suffocation
  • A squeaking noise (which is called stridor) when inhaled and a whistling sound when exhaled.
  • Low-temperature fever, the child’s temperature will be less than 100.4℉ (38℃)
  • Cold symptoms include runny, stuffy nose, and headache
  • Retractions may occur around the chest region; to be clear, the skin on rib bones pulls inwards
  • In severe cases of croup, the skin or lip turns pale blue or purple, which is known as cyanosis

6. Home Remedies For Croup Cough

You can control your child’s symptoms of croup at home by doing the following remedies:

6.1. Fresh Air

Taking your child out to inhale some fresh air can ease croup symptoms. Staying in the same room could also be a reason for a cough. As croup cough is often worse at night, having your child breathe cool night air outside is better. Make your child breathe cool air, which may reduce symptoms of croup.

Sleeping in the same room can also cause stridor; hence, periodically switch rooms (only if your child is very sensitive to croup) or just clean the room properly.

6.2. Use Cool Mist Humidifier

This can be a better option for recovery from croup symptoms because these devices give humidified air that contains water vapour.

6.3. Stay Calm

What Is Croup Cough
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As an adult, try to understand what croup cough is because younger children get panicked easily and improve symptoms of croup if they sob or are frightened, so stay calm and make your child do the same. Heavy breathing triggers croup; therefore, take responsibility for comforting your child.

Lying in bed can cause a croupy cough, so add pillows to your child’s back to elevate him or make him sit upright.

6.4. Make Your Child Drink Lots Of Fluids

What Is Croup Cough
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Water and other fluids lubricate the throat and lessen the rate of cough, and warm water works better. For children under one year, serve them with 1 to 3 spoons of lukewarm water; children above one year can be served with any amount of water.

6.5. Steam Therapy

what is croup cough
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Turn on the hot shower or fill a tub with hot water and leave your child for about 15 to 20 minutes; this can prevent croup symptoms worse than before.

These methods are helpful only for milder cases of croup, but if your child shows severe symptoms of croup, then seek immediate medical attention as early as possible because severe croup can only be treated only by medical treatment.

7. How To Prevent Croup From Spread

Although croup cough is contagious among children, it can be prevented by following simpler steps:

what is croup cough
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  • Wash your hands before nurturing your child
  • Dispose of used tissue properly
  • Wash the clothes and other toys that the child used to play
  • Instruct your child to cover their mouth (even nose) whenever they feel coughing and sneezing

8. Conclusion

After knowing what croup cough is, you must safeguard your little ones. Most children with mild croup can be treated at home, but those with severe symptoms need medical attention; hence, never hesitate to take them to the hospital.

If you take your children to a hospital for croup treatment, they may be injected with steroids, which can reduce swelling, and given breathing treatments to lessen the symptoms of croup cough.

Last Updated on by Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology


Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology

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