Croup is a common respiratory illness often seen in children 6 months to 36 months of age. Croup causes distinctive symptoms, including hoarseness and a barking cough, a high-pitched sound (stridor) heard when breathing in, and trouble breathing as a result of swelling or obstruction in the windpipe (trachea).
Croup is usually caused by a virus that affects the throat and upper airways but not the lungs. It often recurs until a child is 5 to 6 years old.
Symptoms of croup usually can be managed at home by humidifying the air and soothing the child. Severe symptoms may require a visit to the doctor or emergency room where the child can be given medicines to reduce airway swelling. Oxygen may be needed until breathing improves.
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