Croup is also called laryngotracheobronchitis, a.k.a. respiratory infection, and it affects babies and children from 4 months to 4 years of age. It’s characterized by a harsh, barklike cough, and inspiratory stridor. It’s often accompanied with a fever.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Croup has an unmistakable sound — a harsh, repetitive cough similar to the noise of a seal barking. Attacks of croup often jar children awake and leave them frightened and gasping for breath. Croup can be scary for parents, too, but it’s usually not serious. At its worst, croup can be treated in the doctor’s office most of the time.
The harsh, barking cough is the result of swelling around the vocal cords (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). When the cough reflex forces air through this narrowed passage, the vocal cords vibrate with a barking noise. Because children have small airways to begin with, those younger than age 5 are most susceptible to croup.
Fluids, moist air and other self-care measures can speed recovery from croup. If you stay calm, you can quiet your child’s cough so that everyone can get back to sleep.
Two weeks ago, Calvin was exposed to another child with the croup. However, no one knew he had the croup until the next day, and by then, the virus has already entered. I’ve been vigilant observing him to see if any symptoms manifest, and they finally did a few days ago.
Calvin got a runny nose. At first, I just associated that with teething since he’s still cutting more teeth and that’s always a symptom before they erupt. However, he sneezed often–not a teething symptom. Sometimes he sounded a little raspy. Then, last night, I heard that signature bark-like cough that pierces my heart and makes me so sad for how terrible he feels. He coughed a little, but didn’t wake up. I asked Steve to set up the humidifier for the night, while I did some research on homeopathic remedies for soothing such a wicked-sounding cough associated with a viral infection.
Calvin’s not yet been sick since he was born. I attribute that to him being well-adjusted through chiropractic care, breastmilk supplied antibodies, and supplemental healthy nutrition in fresh fruits and vegetables. But, he’s gonna get something sometime, and it just happens to be the croup.
Although he’s been sleeping 8 to 9 hour stretches at night after his before bedtime nursing, this past week was filled with more wakefulness at night. At least now I know why. Wakefulness in addition to decreased appetite at mealtimes equate to baby boy who does not feel very well.
The second night of croupy cough was the worst/scariest/hardest. But, he’s definitely had return of appetite and he’s sleeping better at night.
So far, it’s been 3 nights of croupy cough. Breastmilk abates the inflamed throat (water just doesn’t coat an irritated throat as effectively) and provides antibodies from me since I’m fighting off the same infection (which was given to me from Calvin—that’s how breastfeeding and antibody generation works, milk mamas!). The third night was much better. He’s less tired and less fussy during the day, even though he still has an occasional runny nose and cough. I hope this resolves completely very soon.
Natural Cold/Croup Relief
From personal experience, these are the things that helped the most:
- keeping baby hydrated at night
- if baby’s got a cold and congested sinuses and begins mouth-breathing, he’ll dry out his throat which contributes to the croupy cough, so if you’re nursing, then nurse baby as needed at night. otherwise, try water, and give it to baby/child OFTEN during the day
- humidifier with warm steam and added eucalyptus or tea tree oil
- hot steamy bathroom
- side sleeping as opposed to back sleeping
Other therapies/remedies that I used:
- hydrotherapy: alternate cold/moist and hot/moist compresses on baby’s chest and back for 20 to 30 second intervals for 3 cycles. Do not put very hot towels directly on baby’s skin, but place them over your hand as a buffer
- this therapy increases circulation and may help to flush any stagnant inflammation
- homeopathic remedies
- aconite and spongia tosta in 30C pills hourly as symptoms indicate (crushed and diluted with water for baby).
If your child wakes up in the middle of the night with a scary, bark-like cough. Don’t fret, don’t rush your child to the ER, but take a deep breath. Comfort and calm your frightened child, and realize it’s going to be okay. Do keep an eye on your child in case you notice coughing, difficulty breathing coupled with drooling and skin color change. It’s possible that could indicate the very rare circumstance of a swollen epiglottis. That means you DO need to high tail it to the ER because that is a very serious condition. But chances are, your child has a common childhood respiratory infection that will pass within 5 or 6 days.