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Illnesses & Symptoms


General Information

Many parents recognize croup by the characteristic seal-bark cough. (To hear the sound, check out Dr. Stuppy's blog The Sounds of Coughing.) The cough tends to start suddenly in the middle of the night and improves during the day, but may return at night. It is caused by many viruses. The same virus might cause laryngitis in the older child or adult. A fever might be present for the first 1-3 days.The bark-like cough can recur for 1-3 nights, even if during the day the child seems better. It can be followed by nasal drainage and a looser cough from the mucus. This can last a few weeks, like any other viral cough.


Treatment includes either humidified air or cool air.
  • You can begin with steaming up the bathroom with a hot shower and closed bathroom door. Do not put the child in the shower, simply let the steam build up in the room. You can comfort your child by singing, cuddling. When they get afraid, the cough can worsen.
  • If the outside temperature is cool (but not too cold) you can sit outside to ease the cough.
  • If the above fails to control the cough, please have your child evaluated in our office (or at a pediatric urgent care or local ER overnight). Steroids and racemic epinephrine breathing treatments (different from asthma breathing treatments) are prescribed for severe cases.
See our Cough and Cold page for more information.

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Illnesses & Symptoms