John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- Croup is an infection of the larynx, trachea, and the bronchial tubes usually caused by viruses, less often caused by bacteria.
- Croup is contagious, especially during the first few days of illness.
- A cough that sounds like a barking seal and a harsh raspy "Darth Vader" sound during inhalation are symptoms of croup.
- Treatment of croup can include cool moist air, saltwater nose drops, pain and fever medication, fluids, and very rarely antibiotics. Over-the-counter decongestants, cough and cold medications, and aspirin should not be given.
- The major concern in croup is progressive breathing difficulty as the air passages narrow.
- Close monitoring of the breathing of a child with croup is important, especially at night.
What is croup? What causes croup?
Croup is an infectious illness of the respiratory system involving the vocal cords (larynx), the windpipe (trachea), and the upper airways of the lungs (bronchial tubes). The majority of a child's symptoms reflect involvement of the larynx. Croup is usually a viral infection and maybe caused by many different viruses, including those responsible for the common cold and influenza. Rarely, croup is caused by a bacterial infection. Croup is more common in children between 6 months and 3 years of age and rarely occurs in children over 6 years of age. It is more commonly seen from late fall through the early winter months. It has a slightly higher frequency in boys than girls. Bacterial croup is an infection of the same structures that are affected during the viral process. Therapy varies depending on whether there is a viral or bacterial cause.
Next: Is croup contagious?
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