Hello, and welcome to the first in our series of blogs about Baby Health.
In each blog post we will explore a topic surrounding the health of little ones, and offer some tips about how you might be able to deal with the issue at hand. Obviously, it goes without saying that if at any point you suspect your baby is more than just unwell you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. Whether that is calling a doctor, visiting a walk in centre or going straight to A&E, please do make sure you do what has to be done.
Hopefully you will find some value in the blog and the health section as it grows over time. Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to cover, or if you have any tips that we have missed!
In today’s blog we look at one of the less well understood areas of child healthcare, indeed one that is often overlooked and yet can be treated quite simply to make a huge difference in the quality and quantity of your child’s sleep.
Croup is a condition that is frequently misunderstood, the early warning symptoms are simple to overlook, and parents are frequently taken aback when they discover their child has croup. Many parents notice the symptoms “croaky sounding voice”, “wheezing”, or “barking cough,” which are typically worse at night time, but they may not know that these symptoms suggest croup. Croup is an inflammation of the vocal chords that causes a child’s voice to become hoarse and raspy. Hopefully this information can help parents to recognise croup so that they can diagnose and treat it at an early stage, hence reducing the likelihood that they will need to take their child for emergency medical help.
What exactly is croup?
The viruses that are responsible for the common cold and influenza also cause the infection known as croup. Croup is a condition that typically begins in a child with symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, and fever.
However, as the infection begins to harm the voice box and windpipe, the child will develop croup symptoms. There is no such thing as a “croup virus.” The term “croup” refers to the collection of symptoms that manifest themselves when there is inflammation of the windpipe or voice box accompanied by an oedema.
What are the tell-tale signs that my toddler has croup?
Croup is an upper respiratory infection that can damage the voice box as well as the windpipe -this causes the recognisable symptoms of croup. If we have an understanding of how things work, then we will be able to get familiar with the symptoms that are caused by croup.
When we speak, the air that passes over our voice box causes our voice box to change its form, which in turn influences the loudness and pitch of our voice. When your child has croup, the infection that causes it produces inflammation of the voice box, which in turn causes your child to make some strange sounds. It is normal for them to experience a change in the tone of their cough, which is typically harsh and barking in character. It may also lead them to have a hoarse voice.
Croup is a common condition that mainly affects babies’ and young children’s airways. It’s usually mild, but it’s important to call NHS 111 if you think your child has croup. They may need treatment.
Seeking professional medical help
The majority of the time, a doctor will be the one to diagnose croup. They will:
- Pay attention to how your youngster is breathing.
- Utilizing a stethoscope, you should listen to your child’s chest.
- Check the neck and throat of your youngster.
Sometimes X-rays or other tests are conducted in order to eliminate other ailments that could be a possibility.
The majority of children who have croup can be treated at home without the need for medical attention. Croup in children can be frightening, especially if it requires a trip to the walk-in centre, the doctor’s office, or the hospital for treatment. The intensity of symptoms is often taken into consideration while devising a treatment plan.
Efforts to Provide Solace
Because sobbing and agitation both contribute to a narrowing of the airway, it is critical that you soothe your child and maintain their composure. Keep your youngster close to you while you sing them lullabies or read them calm stories. Offer a favourite blanket or toy. A calm and comforting voice is usually a great help.
If your child’s symptoms continue for more than three to five days, or if they get worse, the paediatrician who treats your child may prescribe the following medications:
It is possible to treat inflammation in the airway by administering glucocorticoids, which are a type of steroid. In most cases, the benefits will become apparent within a few hours. Because of how long its effects might continue, a single dose of dexamethasone is typically all that is necessary.
When treating more severe symptoms, epinephrine can be administered in an inhaled form with the use of a nebulizer. This version of the medication is beneficial in lowering airway inflammation. It has a rapid onset of action, although its effects don’t last long. In order to assess whether or not your child needs a second dose, it is quite likely that they will need to examine your child for a few hours before sending them home.
In the event that your child has a severe case of croup, he or she may require hospitalisation so that they can be monitored and receive extra treatments.
What to do at Home
The symptoms of croup often disappear between three and five days after they have begun. In the meanwhile, you can take a few easy steps to ensure that your child is comfortable, including the following:
Stay calm. You can reassure or distract your child by giving them a hug, reading them a book, or playing a calm game. It is more difficult to breathe while one is crying.
Keep your youngster in an upright position that is comfortable for them. You can either place your child in an infant seat or a favourite chair, or you can hold your child on your lap. It’s possible that sitting up straight will make it simpler to breathe.
Offer fluids. Either breast milk or formula can be safely given to infants. If your child is older, you could try comforting them with some soup or frozen fruit ice pops.
Encourage rest. Your child needs sleep in order to fight off the virus.
Give them something to bring down their temperature. If your child is running a temperature, over-the-counter pain relievers like junior paracetamol (Calpol or similar brands) might be able to help.
Don’t bother taking any cold medicine. Cold remedies that may be purchased without a prescription are not advised for use in children of any age, but are especially risky for children younger than 2 years old. In addition, over-the-counter cough treatments are of no use in treating croup.
The cough that your child has may get better throughout the day, but you shouldn’t be surprised if it comes back when they go to bed. You might find it helpful to sleep close to your child or even in the same room with them so that you can respond quickly if the severity of their symptoms increases during the night.
Getting ready for your scheduled appointment
Your child won’t need to see a doctor for croup in the vast majority of situations. However, you should contact your child’s physician if the symptoms are severe or if they do not respond to therapy at home if the symptoms are severe.
What actions you can take
Make a list of the following things before your appointment: your child’s symptoms, including how long they have been occurring, what, if anything, makes them better or worse, and how long they have been occurring.
Any and all treatments, including those purchased over the counter, vitamins, and other supplements, as well as their dosages that your child is now taking.
What you may anticipate from your visit to the doctor
Your child’s physician will most likely ask a variety of questions in order to assist in determining the most appropriate method of therapy, including the following:
- What sort of symptoms does your child have?
- Have you noticed that your youngster is having trouble swallowing or has a fever?
- How long has it been since your child first started exhibiting symptoms?
- Have you noticed that your child’s cough is getting worse over time? If so, at what rate exactly?
- Have you identified any recurring themes in your child’s coughing fits? For instance, does it get worse at night?
- Has your child recently been in contact with sick children?
- Is there anything else wrong with your child’s health that you know of?
- Are the immunisations that your child has received up to date?
Your child’s doctor will ask you further questions based on your responses, as well as the symptoms and requirements of your child. You will be able to get the most out of your time with the doctor if you come prepared and think ahead about the questions you want to ask.
The best news is that the prognosis for the vast majority of croup cases is excellent and recovery is almost always complete. So whether your youngster can be treated at home or requires medical assistance, they stand a great chance of making a full recovery.
Thank you for reading our blog, if you would like to hear about any other topics please let us know in the comments below.
See you soon, stay safe, kind and happy!