Doc Talk: Dangers of 'Croup' and ways parents should properly treat the infection

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In our weekly feature, Doc Talk, pediatric emergency doctor, Clint Pollack from Valley Children's Hospital discusses an upper airway infection impacting kids.

Dr. Pollack explains how parents should properly treat 'Croup.'

He says Croup is a respiratory illness which causes inflammation in the upper airway.

Dr. Pollack says the medical term is "laryngotracheitis", inflammation of the subglottic airway, just below the vocal cords.

Symptoms include inspiratory stridor, barky cough, hoarse voice, and fever.

He says Croup is usually a mild, self-limited illness that resolves in about three days.

Croup usually occurs in fall or winter.

Symptoms often become more severe late at night.

"Classic croup" is a viral URI which affects children 6 months to 3 years-old.

Most common viruses are parainfluenza, RSV, and adenovirus.

"Spasmodic croup" also occurs in young children, but usually without fever or significant cold symptoms.

Symptoms occur only at night.

Can happen recurrently.

Caused by allergies, not infection.

Diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms.

X-rays are usually not needed, but typically show "steeple sign", narrowing/tapering of the upper trachea (windpipe).

Home treatment for croup should include:

-Cool mist humidified air

-Encourage fluid intake
-Fever control
-Medical treatment may include one dose of steroid (decadron) to reduce inflammation.
-More severe patients may require nebulized epinephrine treatments and hospitalization.
-Children who have repeated episodes of croup, outside of the typical age range (6 months - 3 years-old), and/or without the classic symptoms should be referred to an ENT specialist to evaluate for other causes of stridor, such as
-Airway lesions
-GERD (gastroesophageal reflux)
-Eosinophilic esophagitis
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