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Definition of Croup

  • Medical Author:
    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: An infection of the larynx, trachea, and bronchial tubes that occurs mainly in children. It is usually caused by viruses but sometimes by bacteria. Symptoms include a cough that sounds like a seal's bark and a harsh crowing sound during inhalation. A low-grade fever is common. A major concern with croup is difficulty breathing as the air passages narrow. Treatment may include administration of moist air (as from a humidifier), saltwater nose drops, decongestants and cough suppressants, pain medication, fluids, and, if the infection is bacterial, antibiotics. The breathing of a child with croup should be closely monitored, especially at night, when croup usually gets worse due to prone body position while sleeping. Although most children recover from croup without hospitalization, some may develop life-threatening breathing difficulties. Therefore, close contact with a physician during croup is especially important.

Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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