Croup is a respiratory condition best known for causing a barking cough. This condition almost exclusively affects children between 6 months and 6 years of age and about 15% of children will suffer from it at some time. It almost never occurs in teenagers or adults, but there have been rare cases of croup in these age groups. Along with the telltale cough, croup also causes wheezing, difficulty breathing and hoarseness. Despite these serious symptoms it is not usually life threatening. Let’s find out what causes this condition and how it is treated.
What is the cause of croup?
Traditionally the largest cause of croup was diphtheria, which is a respiratory infection caused by a bacteria known as Corynebacterium diphtheriae. However, a vaccine against this disease has basically eliminated this as the cause of croup in the Western World.
Today, croup is caused by a virus or bacterial infection. The most common cause of viral croup is believed to be type 1 and 2 parainfluenza virus. It can also be caused by the common flu virus, measles, adenovirus and respiratory syncytial virus. There are a number of bacteria that are believed to be involved with croup, but many of these are thought to be a secondary infection after an initial virus.
What is the treatment for croup?
The most common treatment for croup is steroids and can provide relief in about 6 hours. In serious cases the steroid epinephrine is used and this usually clears the condition up in 10-30 minutes, but the effects only last about 2 hours. If the condition is causing a lack of oxygen then the patient will be given additional oxygen. Antibiotics are not usually used because the condition is usually caused by a virus.
Did you know?
Boys are 50% more likely to suffer from croup than girls!
The word croup come from an old English word that means “to cry hoarsely.”