What Is Croup?

Croup is a bronchial tube, vocal cord and windpipe infection that results in a barking cough and restricts breathing, states Mayo Clinic. Croup is typically treated at home and is not serious.

Croup typically begins with a cold or flu virus, and it most commonly affects children, notes Mayo Clinic. Croup spreads through inhalation of virus particles in the air or touching contaminated surfaces. Frequent hand-washing, staying away from sick individuals, and vaccinations can help prevent croup. Symptoms of croup include a hoarse voice, fever and labored breathing that lasts for three to five days. A child with croup should see a doctor if the skin around the mouth, nose or fingernails appears blue or a grayish color, if she begins to breathe rapidly, if a high-pitched sound occurs while breathing, or if she struggles to breathe.

Treatment for croup usually involves self-care measures to perform at home, states the Mayo Clinic. Glucocorticoid may treat airway inflammation if symptoms worsen or last beyond three to five days. Severe croup in a child may require insertion of a temporary breathing tube in the windpipe. Sitting in an upright position, drinking a large amount of fluids, rest, and over-the-counter pain relievers also reduce croup symptoms.