November 26, 2015
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Croup (cont.)

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What warning signs should parents look for with croup?

The major concern in croup is the accompanying breathing difficulties as the upper airway narrows. Close monitoring of the child's breathing is important. The child should be especially observed at night or when napping for breathing difficulty. The doctor should be notified if the child is having progressive breathing difficulty, unusual drooling, agitation or restlessness, fever over 103 F, or if the parent feels frightened!

The breathing difficulties seen in croup can progress rapidly, turning into a life-threatening emergency. On rare occasions, a child must be rushed by ambulance into the emergency room because of serious breathing problems. Signs of serious trouble include swallowing difficulty, nonstop drooling, bluish discoloration of the skin or lips, sucking in of the chest, and rapid breathing (over 80 breaths per minute).

While most children recover from croup without hospitalization, some children can develop life-threatening breathing difficulties. Therefore, close contact with the doctor during this illness is important.

Is it possible to prevent croup?

There is no current vaccination to prevent croup. However, several laboratories are working diligently to develop one. The infectious virus is most commonly transmitted by coughing or sneezing. Touching objects contaminated with infectious viral particles also allows transmission of the virus. Airborne viral particles can be infectious for about one hour. Virus on objects remains infectious for several hours. Avoiding these exposures can prevent croup.

What is the prognosis if my child develops croup?

The prognosis for a child who develops croup is excellent. Most cases of croup can be managed at home by exposing the child to cool moist air. Rarely will a child need a dose of oral steroid medication. It is extremely rare for an otherwise healthy child to be hospitalized for croup.


Woods, Charles R. "Patient Information: Croup in Infants and Children." Aug. 18, 2010. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/4/2014


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