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Croup - What is Croup and how dangerous is it?

We decided to write this page after a very scary experience we had with our two year old. We think that parents need to be more aware of how dangerous it can sometimes be. We had no idea, we thought that Croup was a cough that children sometimes got and that it was quite common and nothing to really worry about. It is quite a long tale, but we hope you will think it is worth telling.

Unfortunately, we were very wrong. Our two year old son Elliot developed a cough which sounded like a bark. This went on for about a day and he developed a slight wheeze. The next day his cough got a little worse, as did the wheeze and he went off his food. He also vomitted in the morning. He then perked up a bit and seemed fine until the evening.

In the evening the cough became more frequent, as did the wheezing and we thought he had a chest infection. During the night he woke about every three quarters of an hour with coughing and wheezing. We decided that in the morning we would take our eldest to a friend's house and take Elliot to A&:E, as it was a Sunday and there was no doctor's surgery. Thank goodness we did!

At ten o'clock we arrived at A&E at Boston's Pilgrim Hospital and explained Elliot was having trouble with his breathing they saw him almost instantly. The nurse who saw him lifted his pyjama top took one look at his chest and moved us straight to the treatment room and called for a doctor straight away. The doctor examined Elliot briefly and asked the nurse to call the Emergency Paediatric Team as he had severe Croup.

At this point we realised that our son's life could actually be in danger! The team arrived - two doctors, an anaesthetist, two nurses, the first doctor staying close at hand. Elliot had a temperature of 39.8 and was put on a monitor. His oxygen saturation was only 89% and his heart rate was over 200 - not at all good! Oxygen saturation should be at least 95% and his resting heart rate should be about 130!!

He was placed on Oxygen first, via a mask. He was also then given a mixture of Oxygen & Ventalin, Oxygen & Steroid and finally Oxygen & Adrenalin. It was the final mixture which seemed to do the trick or perhaps all three! There was no need to insert an airway, as the adrenalin appeared to have worked, therefore the anaesthetist left us. Elliot was left on the monitor and we were moved up to the HDU room on the Paediatric Ward.

The ward gave Elliot some Brufen for his temperature. At this point he went to sleep on his Mum. He slept for a little while, but was woken with his cough and wheeze, so he was given some more steroid medicine. We were then seen by the Paediatric Registrar and he told us that they were now worried by the rebound that can sometimes occur after steroids. Once the steroids wore off the problem could be worse. The nurse told us that Elliot would be in overnight, so Mum stayed with him.

Elliot had a reasonable night, although another coughing and wheezing bout led to more steroid medicine. In the morning believe it or not he was fine! Yes, he had a cough and a wheeze, but all of his stats were almost normal. He came home was very cuddly, but not too bad. However, he was sick during his dinner, which we put down to the medication.

Tuesday passed and he seemed a little brighter all was good. However, he didn't want his dinner as he was wheezing quite a lot. Unfortunately, Elliot relapsed as his temperature shot up his wheezing increased as did the cough. So, off we went to Pilgrim Hospital again!

Elliot's breathing was a little too fast and his temperature was 39.2. He was given more Brufen, but after an hour his temperature was still 38 so we went back up to the Paediatric Ward. When we were seen by the doctor, Elliot's stats were normal once more, however he was given more steroid medicine.

Wednesday, he had a good day and night. Thursday he was full of life, ate well and finished the day off being sick during his dinner! However, he settled well at night. Friday passed and there were no problems, but when we got to Saturday lunchtime he was sick again.

Fortunately, things gradually settled down and Elliot is now fine, however it is important to remember that Croup can come back as it is not always a one-off. This time we will be more prepared.

Now, we have hopefully shown you how dangerous Croup can be, what is Croup? Croup is a viral infection of the voicebox. It is not just a cough, nor is it linked to the chest. The infection is concentrated in the voicebox, hence the barking cough rather than a rattling cough, normally associated with a chest infection.

In severe cases, like our own, your child may need hospital treatment. The viral infection affects the airway in the voicebox and in children this is much smaller than adults. Therefore, if this becomes infected the airway becomes constricted and the child will have difficulty breathing. If the airway closes, the child would ultimately be unable to breathe.

Please learn from our experience, should your child develop a barking cough with a wheeze and possibly a high temperature which you can't control; get them straight to the doctor or A& E! We cannot stress how important it is to get your child seen by a medical professional.

We are not medical experts, just parents whose child suffered a nasty Croup experience. For more detailed information about Croup, please also look at the links below:

KidsHealth - Croup

Wikipedia - Croup

netdoctor - Croup

Medline Plus - Croup

BBC Health - Croup

Bupa - Croup

Thank you for reading our page. If you would like to see what other information we have to offer, please take a look at our Site Index

Finally, a big thank you to Pilgrim Hospital for responding so fast to Elliot's condition. We are very lucky to have such a good hospital at Boston, Lincolnshire.