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Croup treatments

Most children with croup don’t need treatment. You can manage the symptoms in exactly the same way as for a cold. It’s important to try and keep your child calm, because your child can have more trouble breathing if they are upset, frightened or stressed. Croup is most commonly caused by a virus, so antibiotics won’t work. Antibiotics treat only bacterial infections.

Steam therapy, including the use of vaporisors, is no longer recommended.

If the croup does not settle with comforting, or the child becomes more distressed or unwell, or you are concerned about your child, the child needs to be seen by a doctor.

Your doctor may prescribe medicines that can help reduce the inflammation and swelling such as oral corticosteroid medicine.

A few children with croup need to go to hospital for observation, to ensure that their windpipes don’t get blocked. While in hospital, your child might initially receive nebulised adrenaline (adrenalin given via a face mask) to relieve the spasm and swelling until the steroids work.

Last reviewed: July 2017

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