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Croup is very common in young children.

Croup is very common in young children.
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Croup is very common in young children, mainly in children under 5 years old. It’s usually not serious. The inflammation is usually caused by the same viruses that cause the common cold, and is therefore more common in winter.

What is croup?

Croup is a viral infection that causes swelling of the windpipe (trachea), the airways to the lungs (the bronchi) and the vocal cords (voice box). This swelling makes the airway narrower, so it is harder to breathe.

A child with croup has a distinctive barking cough and may make a harsh sound, known as stridor, when they breathe in.

Croup diagnosis

Croup can usually be diagnosed by a doctor and treated at home. Your doctor will diagnose croup after taking your child’s history and examining your child.

When to see your doctor

You should take your child to the doctor if:

  • your child is having trouble breathing
  • you can easily hear your child’s noisy breathing, even when they are resting quietly
  • your child’s breastbone sucks in when they breathe in
  • your child has trouble swallowing
  • you’re worried.

If your child’s lips go blue, seek medical attention immediately. Severe croup requires emergency medical attention.

If you suspect that you are having a life-threatening medical emergency, dial triple zero (000) immediately.

Last reviewed: July 2017

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Top results

Croup & stridor: babies & children | Raising Children Network

If your child has a barking cough, hoarse voice and stridor (noisy breathing), she might have croup. Most children with croup dont need special treatment.

Read more on Raising Children Network website


Croup is a viral infection of the throat and windpipe that causes noisy breathing, a hoarse voice and a harsh, barking cough.

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Croup (barking cough, hoarse voice, wheeze) information | myVMC

Croup is usually cause by infection with viral laryngotracheobronchitis. It causes a hoarse voice, barking cough and a high-pitched wheeze on inhalation.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Croup: symptoms and treatments -

Croup is an infectious condition that causes inflammation and swelling of the voice box (larynx), windpipe and the airways, resulting in breathing difficulties and a barking cough.

Read more on myDr website

Croup | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Croup is a common respiratory illness in young children which can cause narrowing of their airway

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Croup

Croup is caused usually by a virus infection. Ayoung child (usually under 5 years) becomes mildly unwell with what seems to be a normal 'cold'. The virus infection then causes the lining of the airway (windpipe) in the child's neck to swell, causing the airway to get narrower andmaking it harder to breathe.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Understanding Cough, Wheezing and Noisy Breathing in Children

Symptoms such as cough, wheezing or noisy breathing can be caused by a number of conditions. When these occur, it is natural for parents to feel anxious and worried. This pamphlet will help you to better understand your child’s cough or noisy breathing symptoms so that you can talk about them with your doctor.

Read more on Lung Foundation Australia website

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