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CROUP is a viral infection of the upper airway. The viruses that cause croup also cause cold symptoms. The hoarseness is due to the swelling of the vocal cords. STRIDOR occurs as the opening between the vocal cords becomes narrowed.

STRIDOR is a harsh, raspy, vibrating sound heard when your child breathes in. Stridor is usually only present when the child is crying and coughing. As the disease becomes worse, stridor may be heard when the child is sleeping or relaxed.

  • Croup usually lasts for 5 or 6 days and generally gets worse at night. The worst symptoms are seen during the 2nd and 3rd nights of the illness.
  • Primary symptoms of croup include a tight, metallic cough (like a barking seal), and a hoarse voice.
  • Accompanying symptoms may include a runny nose, sore throat, and fever.


  • Mist: Dry air usually makes the cough worse, so keep the child's room humidified. Cool, moist air is best (cool mist humidifier or hang a wet washcloth). On a cool night it is recommended to crack a window or for increased coughing
  • TAKE CHILD OUTSIDE for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Steam from a hot shower may also calm the cough.
  • Clear Liquids: Constant cold, thin drinks will help to decrease the swelling in the throat and help to keep the child hydrated. Some children respond better to room temperature liquids.
  • Over-the-counter Medications: Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen: For fevers > 101.5º and general discomfort as needed. Benadryl: Not recommended for children < 2 years (Will help with runny nose)

(The above medications are for comfort only. They will decrease symptoms but will NOT shorten the duration of the illness.)


  • Stridor at rest
  • Breathing becomes difficult
  • Lips turn blue or dusky
  • Your child develops excessive drooling, spitting, or difficulty swallowing
  • Any signs of dehydration: no urination in 10 hours, no tears, dry mouth, sunken eyes, and/or lethargy
  • Fever > 3 days or > 103º for 4 hours