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The ThriftyBoys have scared the living daylights out of me this last week! We have had one ambulance, two days in hospital and three visits to A&E in total. That’s why I need to share with you how to cope with Croup. It’s a scary experience. One I hop you don’t go through!
What is Croup?
Croup is a childhood condition that affects the windpipe (trachea), the airways to the lungs (the bronchi) and the voice box (larynx).
How do you spot it?
Children with croup have a distinctive barking cough and will make a harsh sound, known as stridor, when they breathe in. This is what Ted had and it came on so quickly towards the end of a feed. I thought he’d maybe drunk some milk and it had gone down the wrong way!
They may also have a hoarse voice and find it difficult to breathe because their airway is blocked. When James came down with Croup this is what he experienced too.
Here’s a good YouTube video so you can hear what Croup sounds like.
What should you do?
Croup can usually be diagnosed by a GP and treated at home. However, if your child’s symptoms are severe and they are finding it difficult to breathe, take them to the nearest hospital’s accident and emergency (A&E) department.
We weren’t sure what it was when Ted became poorly first. I was on the phone to 111 to begin with and suddenly his breathing changed and he was gasping for air. An ambulance arrived within two minutes for him and we were on our way to A&E.
In the ambulance the paramedics were amazing and did such a good job in keeping us all calm. Being kept upright really helped Ted. As did the gift the paramedics gave him. A “Para-Ted” teddy which was perfect for our little Ted. He smiled at it and gave it a cuddle. Such a lovely scheme sponsored by the Beverley Lions.
How do you catch Croup?
Croup is normally caused by a virus. It usually affects young children aged between six months and three years, with most cases occurring in one-year-olds. I suspect this tends to coincide with starting nursery and catching everything!
However, croup can sometimes develop in babies as young as three months, and older children up to 15 years of age. Adults can also get croup but this is rare. The condition is more common during the late autumn and early winter months. It tends to affect more boys than girls and you can catch it more than once.
How do you treat it?
Most cases of croup are mild and can be treated at home. Sitting your child upright and comforting them if they are distressed is important, because crying may make symptoms worse. Your child should also drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
A single dose of an oral corticosteroid medication called dexamethasone (which is what my boys had) or prednisolone will usually also be prescribed to help reduce the swelling in the throat.
If your child has breathing problems they may need hospital treatment, such as adrenaline and oxygen through a mask.
NB. The advice for treatment used to be to take the child into a bathroom and run the hot tap to create steam to help the breathing. This is no longer advised.
Top tips for surviving your trip to hospital…
Keep a grab bag ready at home for such situations. A bag with snacks, a teddy, formula, bottle, book, drinks, phone charger. Also request a room with a cot with a side if you have little ones, otherwise you’ll find it difficult to visit the toilet.
Although Ted went in an ambulance, we had a different experience with James as he got a lot more ill.
James had come home from nursery with a croaky voice, glazed eyes and breathing difficulties. However, being older and bigger than Ted, I thought he would be ok. It wasn’t until the next morning that he got much worse and he was taken straight to A&E by his Dad.
This turned out to be a ten hour visit with no offer of a drink and no lunch provided for James so we tag teamed the day to ensure we all go through it. The next day James was still really suffering from Croup and his breathing worsened so we knew we had to go back to hospital for another treatment of steroids.
The second day in hospital with James I took a back pack filled with food and drinks, a magazine for myself, a toy and book for James and my phone charger.
Although it was another very long day, the staff treated us wonderfully. Once admitted to the ward I was offered a cup of tea which I was so grateful for! We had a lovely view of the Humber and a clean room with a basket of toys to keep James entertained.
Children need to be seen by two different doctors before being allowed home from our local hospital so the waiting can be up to six hours from arriving on the ward so I was glad I went prepared.
What to do once you’re home:
Croup is contagious for three days after appearing or three days after the fever leaves. (The ThriftyBoys didn’t have a fever at all with their Croup)
For this reason it is important to keep your poorly child away from any other children. Once we realised James had caught it from Ted we knew we needed to break the cycle so he went to grandparents for a few days.
Anything that might exacerbate a closing of the windpipe is to be avoided. Play quiet games, read books, watch movies and interact with them in one room to reduce the running about and climbing. They just need rest. Easier said than done, I know!