Croup is a common respiratory illness often seen in children 6 months to 36 months of age. Croup causes distinctive symptoms, including hoarseness and a barking cough, a high-pitched sound (stridor) heard when breathing in, and trouble breathing as a result of swelling or obstruction in the windpipe (trachea).

Croup is usually caused by a virus that affects the throat and upper airways but not the lungs. It often recurs until a child is 5 to 6 years old.

You can usually manage croup symptoms at home by soothing your child and having your child breathe in moist air. Severe symptoms may require a visit to the doctor or emergency room where the child can be given medicines to reduce airway swelling. Oxygen may be needed until breathing improves.

Current as of: September 9, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics