What is it?

  • Croup is an illness in young children, usually less than three years of age, which causes narrowing of the upper airways.
  • When you breathe, air passes through the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea) into the lungs. In croup, the voice box and windpipe become inflamed and narrowed because of swelling of the lining and increased mucus. This blockage causes the windpipe to partly collapse – like when you suck hard on a blocked straw. Young children who have small soft windpipes have the most difficulty. The size and strength of the windpipe will increase as children grow up which is why croup is less common in older children.
  • The major features are a barking cough and noisy breathing which often lasts for a few days.
  • Before the cough develops, your child may have a sore throat, temperature, red eyes, a runny nose, or have a poor appetite.
  • With the cough, you might notice that the breastbone is drawn into the chest as your child breathes in and a ‘crowing’ sound called stridor may also be heard. Your child’s voice is usually hoarse and breathing becomes more difficult as he/she becomes upset.
  • Most episodes of croup are due to viral infections.
  • Some children have many attacks of croup – the attacks usually occur at night and do not last long, often settling within an hour or so. This is sometimes called “spasmodic croup” and can come on suddenly. This form of croup is more common in children who either have or may develop
  • The symptoms of croup are often worse at night when the air is cooler.

When to seek medical attention

  • If your child has any of the following, go to a doctor or hospital straight away
  • Breathing is difficult
  • Your child becomes pale or blue (cyanosed) which usually happens after a coughing spell
  • Your child becomes restless, irritable and/or delirious
  • You notice the breastbone being drawn in severely
  • Your child has a high temperature and is dribbling
  • Your child is not drinking enough
  • You suspect your child could have a foreign object lodged in the airway
  • You are concerned about your child for any reason and need reassurance

What to do

Comfort

  • It is important that both you and your child stay calm, as being anxious will make breathing more difficult. It usually appears a lot worse than it actually is.
  • Many health professionals recommend sleeping in the same room as your child so that you can monitor the condition overnight (which is when the symptoms are at their worst). Make sure the child is comfortable and well-hydrated.

Mist

A cool humidifier can be used to help humidify your baby’s airways. You can add aromatherapy oils to the humidifier to help open the airways.

Maintain high fluid levels

Pure water, chamomile herbal tea and home made soup are good choices. If you suspect your child is becoming dehydrated, seek medical attention.

Cold/Hot Collar

Place a washcloth in a basin of ice cold water and another washcloth in a basin with hot water. Apply the ice cold washcloth to the front of the neck for 1 minute, then the hot washcloth for 1 minute. Alternate a few times.

Aromatherapy

  • You can add a drop of eucalyptus oil to the hot water in a hot/cold collar or to help dilate the airways
  • Add 1 drop eucalyptus, 1 drop lemon and 1 drop lavender oil to the shower floor if using a steamy bathroom to help dilate the airways and treat the virus

Reflexology

See Using reflexology on your baby for general guidelines and safe usage instructions.

This is routine for all respiratory ailments such as asthma, hay fever and colds

This routine can be given daily for acute conditions such as colds and is also good to use during a period of high frequency asthma attacks and 2-3 times per week for more chronic conditions respiratory tract problems such as asthma prevention or hay fever.

1. Begin by relaxing the foot with relaxation techniques and end with a thumb press on the solar plexus point in both feet.

2. Use the chart to locate and work on the points suggested below:

  • Entire chest region
  • Lungs and chest
  • Bronchial area
  • Diaphragm
  • Lymph drainage/chest
  • Thymus
  • Ridge of the shoulder and neck line
  • All of the toes especially the middle third of each toe
  • Throat and the tonsils
  • Pituitary
  • Spleen
  • Ileocecal valve
  • Adrenals
  • Ovaries/testicles
  • Uterus and prostate
  • Lymph and groin

3. End by doing relaxation techniques and thumb press on the solar plexus point in both feet.

Homoeopathic remedies

See Using homoeopathy for Infants for general guidelines and safety considerations.

Many of these remedies are also useful for treating the symptoms of asthma

Aconite

  • Sudden onset during night
  • Often needed after exposure to cold, dry winds or after a traumatic experience
  • The child will wake soon after midnight with anxiety & croupy, barking cough
  • The cough is likely to be sharp, short, dry, and constant. It may begin during sleep and wake the child up, or can start when the person goes from a cool place into a warmer one
  • Restlessness and fear are typical when this remedy is needed. It is often used in early stages of croup and asthma

Belladonna

  • This cough also comes on suddenly, often with the feeling of a speck or tickle in the throat
  • The cough is intense and nagging and the person may feel as if the head is about to burst
  • Sensations of heat, a reddened face, and dilated pupils are often seen when this remedy is needed
  • Children needing this remedy will often have a high fever with no sweat
  • These children will often have bright red hot cheeks

Bryonia

  • This remedy is indicated when a cold goes into the chest and the cough is very painful and dry
  • The person feels worse from any movement
  • The cough can also make the head or stomach hurt, and digestion may be upset. The mouth can be dry and the person may be very thirsty
  • If someone is very grumpy when ill and wants to be left alone, not talked to or disturbed, Bryonia is likely to be the remedy

Chamomilla

  • A dry, hard, irritating cough that starts after being exposed to wind, or after being overexcited and angry, can indicate this remedy
  • The cough is often worse around nine in the evening and may continue into the night
  • The nervous system is hypersensitive, and the person can be extremely irritable and agitated
  • The child will often calm down if someone carries them although sometimes nothing helps for very long
  • This remedy is also useful in asthma attacks, especially those brought on by anger
  • Will often have one red hot cheek an done cool cheek

Ferrum phosphoricum

  • This is an excellent remedy for the early stages of many inflammatory conditions, especially colds and allergy attacks
  • The cough is typically short and tickling, and may be painful
  • Things are worse in cold air, at night, and in the early morning
  • The person feels weary, and often has a moderate fever and lightly flushed cheeks

Hepar sulph.

  • This remedy is very helpful when a cough is loose, rattling and gagging
  • The coughing fits will be long and dry
  • The child will experience extreme sensitivity to all sensations-especially cold-Cold in any form (even food or drink) can set off a bout of coughing, and make the child feel more ill
  • The child may be irritable and touchy. This remedy is often indicated in bronchitis and croup

Ipecac.

  • A violent cough that comes with every breath and long spasmodic bouts of coughing that end in gagging or vomiting are indications for this remedy
  • The person may have a clean, uncoated tongue
  • The child may experience tightness in the throat and chest, or an aggravating tickle
  • Warm, humid air or changes in the weather tend to make problems worse. Ipecac is often used during asthma attacks

Nux vomica

  • Indications for this remedy include a tight sensation in the chest with a dry, hacking, teasing cough-often causing soreness or a feeling that something has been torn inside
  • Long coughing fits can end in stomach pain and retching, and may make the child’s head ache
  • A person who needs this remedy is likely to be impatient, irritable, and oversensitive to everything
  • A feeling of chilliness is typical, and problems are often worse from exertion (both mental and physical) and worse in the morning

Phosphorus

  • This remedy is indicated when a person experiences hoarseness and a tickly cough that hurts the throat, or a cold that travels quickly to the chest
  • The cough can be aggravated by talking, laughing, and exposure to cold air
  • The person may feel heaviness or tightness in the chest
  • A thirst for cold drinks that may cause nausea after warming up in the stomach is another indication for Phosphorus
  • A person who needs this remedy is typically imaginative and fearful, and likes the company of others, but tires very easily
  • This remedy is often used for loss of the voice and laryngitis

Pulsatilla

  • Coughs that are dry in the evening and loose in the morning
  • Worse in a stuffy room or when the person feels too warm
  • Condition improves in open air
  • The chest usually has a feeling of pressure and soreness, and thick yellow mucus may be coughed up with gagging and choking
  • A person who needs this remedy usually likes attention and company
  • It is often given to children who tend toward tears when ill and want to be held and comforted

Rumex crispus

  • A teasing, hacking cough that is triggered by a tickle in the pit of the throat is a strong indication for this remedy; even touching the base of the throat can set off coughing
  • The cough is often dry, but frothy or stringy mucus may come up
  • Coughing may begin when the person goes outside or changes from a warm place to a cool one
  • The cough can keep the person from sleeping, and the center and left side of the chest are likely to be sore

Spongia tosta

  • This remedy is indicated when a cough is loud, harsh, dry, and sounds like barking or sawing wood
  • The person may wake up feeling suffocated, as if the throat is plugged or the breathing passages are dry
  • Problems are usually made worse from being in a room that is too warm, or from lying down with the head too low
  • Talking aggravates the cough, and so does exposure to cold air and smoke
  • Sitting up usually helps, and drinking something warm or eating small amounts brings some relief
  • This remedy is often helpful during croup and asthma and is a good remedy to give if you don’t know what to give

Sulphur

  • This remedy is indicated for burning, irritating coughs that get worse at night in bed, as well as for breathing problems during sleep
  • Useful when a mild cough drags on for a week or more without getting worse, but without much improvement
  • Burning sensations, redness of eyes and mucous membranes, foul odors, and an aggravation from bathing are often seen in a person who needs this remedy