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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