In this section
Croup is a viral
infection which causes swelling of the voice box
(larynx) and windpipe (trachea). This swelling
makes the airway narrower, so it is harder to breathe.
Croup often begins like a normal cold followed
by a harsh, barking cough. This may be worse at night when the air
It usually affects children up to five
years old. Some children get croup several times.
Croup can get worse quickly. If
your child is having problems breathing they should be seen by a
doctor as soon as possible.
If your child's croup attack is severe they
will need to stay in hospital. Severe croup is when your
Most children do not need any other specific
treatment once they are being closely watched in hospital.
A mild attack of croup is when your child has
the harsh, barking cough but does not have noisy breathing (stridor) at
rest or is not struggling to breathe. Mild croup can usually be
managed at home with the following treatment:
If your child's croup does not settle and they
become more distressed they should be seen by a doctor.
Your doctor will let you know when to come
back for review.
You should see a doctor or come to an
emergency department if: