Croup Symptoms and Treatment
Croup is an acute infection that is caused by several types of viruses. Classic symptoms of croup is a paroxysmal onset of coughing and often accompanied by shortness of breath.
In most cases, the virus will attack mainly the upper respiratory tract and cause the mucous membranes in the throat, nose and throat swell considerably. This occurs to the typical croup symptoms such as hoarseness, runny nose and a general malaise. In most cases, croup heals by itself again. In severe cases, hospitalization is necessary.
The majority of cases of croup is reported in autumn and winter. In general, the disease can occur at any age. In principle, children between 18 months and three years are mostly affected with croup. Approximately ten percent of all children suffer croup once in their childhood. Boys are affected slightly than girls.It is very rare in adults.
What Are The Croup Symptoms ?
As a classic symptom of croup is considered the dry and barking cough. Scientists suspect the cause of this nocturnal accumulation of cortisol which is produced in the body between 24 and four o’clock. This hormone exerts a protective function against inflammation. In addition, children suffer at night often from acute respiratory distress (acute croup attack) but breathlessness can also increase slowly during the day.
Further symptoms with croup inludes ;
- Difficulty breathing with whistling
- Breathing sounds
- The respiratory distress also leads to fear and restlessness in children
- Acceleration of the pulse rate (tachycardia).
Croup usually develops as a result of a cold and symptoms such as runny nose and normal cough are counted in the initial stage of the infection to the symptoms of croup.
Croup in adults
Croup in adults often develop a lot easier than with children. Symptoms such as shortness of breath and cyanosis hardly can be seen, but is classic also the croup with a severe seizures at night and hoarseness and dullness.
Based on the occurring symptoms can be divided into four different stages:
Phase: Typical cough like barking, hoarse voice
Phase: wheezing when inhaled, pulling the ribcage during inhalation
Phase: shortness of breath, increased pulse rate, anxiety, pale complexion
Phase: Strong breathlessness, shallow and rapid pulse, breath sounds at inhalation and exhalation, blueness of the skin, impaired consciousness.
Depending on individual health conditions, the disease duration at croup can move in a time frame between two days and two weeks. In individual cases it is also a significant period of time and again periodically to a croup-attack.
Croup Causes and Risk Factors
Viruses usually cause the croup. All viruses come into consideration that can cause the common cold. This includes:
- Parainfluenza viruses
- Influenza (Type A or B) viruses
- Rare measles
- Chicken pox
- Herpes simplex and Epstein-Barr virus
The infection of the linings of the mouth, nose and throat, the vocal cords swell below the larynx to (larynx). In addition, increased mucus can accumulate in the bronchi. This results in symptoms such as hoarseness and breathlessness. Baby and Toddle is at risk in croup because they don’t have very narrow airways and that is why it can affect a small airway as constriction to life threatening.
Factors such as cold winter air, air pollution or cigarette smoke in the air can aggravate the acute symptoms, but they are not considered as triggering factors.
The risk of a croup attack is very high especially at night. The dry air and breathing with an open mouth in most children with a viral infection cause additional irritation of mucous membranes.Croup attack can occur suddenly and violently.
Viruses can be transmitted through the air by coughing, talking or sneezing into smallest droplets of saliva (droplet infection). Therefore croup is contagious. Generally a croup-infection can also take place via infected items such as glasses or used tissues. Therefore, pay attention reinforced to hygiene with croup and if your child is sick, avoid other children come together.
Croup Investigation and Diagnosis
The diagnosis is made when symptoms occur based on croup. Doctors identify by the classic cough and whistling noises when inhaling is a very quickly. In addition, the medical history will be requested and often parents give information. Typical questions asked by the doctor in this case are :
- How long have you (or your child) cough yet?
- How often does a cough occur ?
- Do you feel (or their child) sometimes breathlessness?
Usually, severity of the disease is yet to be determined, to educate parents about possible life-threatening situations especially. To assess the severity of the retractions, ventilation, cyanosis and awareness rated depending on severity of a certain number of points (Westley score).
The sum of the individual points results in a mild, moderate or serious croup. If the highest score is threatening acute respiratory distress, which usually hospital treatment is necessary. This severe form only occurs in about one percent of all cases.
An inflammation of the epiglottis (epiglottis) that comes with similar symptoms as croup and this can be life threatening. Doctor examines tongue down and looks into the throat with a spatula. The investigation is carried out very quickly and is not associated with pain.
The type of croup treatment depends primarily on the severity of symptoms occur. In most cases, sufferers can stay at home and a treatment in the hospital is rarely necessary.
Infection sounds with croup as in other viral infections within a few days. Therefore, it is primarily important to know the factors which aggravate the disease.
If an acute croup attacks, you should take the following actions:
- Breathe your child cool air at the open window or outdoors.
- Drink or drink your child cool drinks.
- Calm yourself or your child. Fear only reinforces the symptoms!
These measures are often sufficient to stop a slight croup attack.
If a strong croup attack occurs with symptoms such as pale skin, shortness of breath, palpitations and anxiety on, you should immediately call an ambulance!
At the hospital, croup is treated with medication. The active ingredients Epinephin, adrenaline and cortisone can decongest the mucous membranes again. Antibiotics is not useful in croup because they do not distroy viruses.
Croup Disease progression and prognosis
Most cases of croup are stage one and heal without complications by itself again.It rarely occurs complications ;
- Middle ear (otitis media)
It is important that the symptoms of croup are similar to epiglottitis which is rapidly life-threatening. So you should generally see a doctor at the first symptoms of respiratory distress in yourself or your child. With a quick treatment complications of croup can be avoided. If there is a serious disease such as epiglottitis behind the complaints, you have to visit doctor on time.
You can not prevent croup. However, you can ensure that the factors that can cause an attack can be minimized: Avoid definitely smoking in your home when someone is suffering from croup. Ensure that individuals are sleeping with open windows or humidified air.