Wednesday, November 17, 1999
Autumn is season for croup
BY SUE MacDONALD
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Any parent who's had a child infected with a lung infection called croup knows the sound of the hallmark cough.
It resembles a barking seal, and it's a scary time when an infant or young child struggles to breath or produces the wheezy-sounding cough common to croup.
Doctors at Children's Hospital Medical Center (CHMC) note that croup usually occurs in fall and can set in unexpectedly: a child has trouble breathing in the middle of the night and wakes up crying.
Dr. Chuck Schubert, emergency medicine physician at CHMC, provides these basic facts and tips:
What croup is: It's caused by the parainfluenza virus, which is not the same as the influenza virus.
The virus that causes croup produces a respiratory infection that occurs mostly in infants and young children; in older children, reinfections are possible but usually milder.
The same parainfluenza virus can also cause other upper-respiratory infections, pneumonia or bronchiolitis and can be particularly severe in children with weak immune systems.
Symptoms: Low-grade fever, difficulty breathing and a cough that sounds like a barking seal.
Treatment: Use a cold-mist humidifier, rest and fluids. If a child wakes up during the night and has trouble breathing, take the (clothed) child into the cold night air for 10-15 minutes.
If exposure to the cold air doesn't solve the problem, call the pediatrician or family doctor. If a child's breathing becomes labored and worrisome, take the child to an emergency department.
Prevention: Wash hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water frequently to prevent the spread of germs.
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