The Scoop on Croup

Any parent will tell you, having a sick baby is the pits. Seeing your little one in pain and discomfort breaks your heart. All you want to do is take the illness away so that they can feel all better again. But you can’t. So you snuggle, love and comfort your little one as best you can until they are fully recovered.

For the last few days, Harper has been showing signs of some mild nasal congestion. Her spirits were up and she would only complain here and there so we thought it might just be related to teething. But after having a hard time sleeping yesterday we decided to take her to the doctor in the afternoon, just in case. We were told she was fighting a small cold and should be feeling better in a few days.

This morning around 4am, we awoke to a visibility upset baby who was clearly struggling to breathe. Luckily for us, we had experienced this before and knew just what to do. We turned on the shower, steamed up the bathroom and allowed Harper to breathe in the warm, moist air. After about 10 minutes we took her outside and walked around a bit so that she could breath in the cold crisp air. This was a technique we were advised to try by our nurse the last time this happened. Unfortunately, Harper was still laboring to breath so we decided to take her to the Emergency Room.

Upon arrival to the ER, they took Harper’s temperature, blood pressure and weight. The nurses asked us a few questions while listening to Harper’s lungs. It didn’t take long for them to hear the stridor on her inhalation and immediately diagnosed her with croup.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with croup, it is an inflammation, swelling and narrowing of the air passages just below the vocal cords. The main symptom of croup is a loud barking “seal-like” cough. When it becomes intense, there is a high-pitched sound when inhaling called a stridor.

Croup occurs most often in the fall and winter months and is commonly caused by a virus. Usually children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years are affected. Croup is highly contagious and therefore children affected should stay home for the first 1-3 days. Some children are prone to croup and may get it several times. This is Harper’s second bout of croup.

Croup usually develops suddenly after a day or two of “cold-like” symptoms. Croup tends to become worse at night. At times, a child may have an “attack” of croup that wakes him or her up. The first night is usually the worst, with milder attacks occurring on the second and third night.

During an acute attack, it is best to keep your child calm since fear and crying tend to make croup worse. The best treatment is to increase the moisture in the air that your child is breathing. This can be done by the steps mentioned above (taking them into a steamy bathroom for 10 minutes and then walking them outside in the cold air for 10 minutes). If symptoms do not resolve, you may have to visit the ER.

At the ER, the doctors can administer a few different remedies that can help your child breathe easier. Steroid medicines can be very affective at promptly relieving the symptoms of croup. Harper received a steroid shot while we were at the hospital. The doctor also prescribed a liquid steroid to be taken at home before bedtime to help minimize the chances of another attack. In addition to the steroids, Harper also received a medicated aerosol treatment to help open up her breathing passageways and provide immediate relief. Thankfully, her breathing improved and we were able to go home and get some much needed rest.

Harper spent most of the day napping and nursing. She wasn’t in the mood to do much else. Tonight was another rough night, even with the steroids, but luckily we are familiar with this journey and we know that Harper will be feeling better soon. In the meantime, all we can do is make sure she is getting a lot of liquids, provide a moist environment with the humidifier, apply some warming rub to her chest and back, and make sure she is comfortable so she can get the sleep she needs. And to be honest, after a few nights of minimal sleep myself, I should probably get some rest too. Here’s to healing thoughts :)

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