Discharge Instructions for Croup

Your child has been diagnosed with croup. This is usually caused by a viral infection of the upper airways and voice box (larynx). You may have noticed that your child had a rough, barking cough. This is one of the most common signs of croup. You may also have noticed a wheezing and rattling sound (stridor) when your child took a breath. Your child may be given a medicine that eases swollen airways. Here are instructions for caring for your child at home.

Home care

  • Cool or moist air can help your child breathe easier:

    • Use a cool-air humidifier or vaporizer. Turn it on next to your child’s bed during and after an attack.

    • During an attack, have your child sit up and breathe in the humidified air.

    • Take your child into the bathroom, close the door, and steam up the room by running hot water through the shower. Hold your child to reduce the chance that he or she may get too close to the hot water and get burned.

    • Take your child outside to breathe in the cool night air.

  • A fever of 100°F (37.7°C) to 101°F (38.3°C) is common in a child with croup. Use over-the-counter (OTC) medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce your child’s fever. Note: Don’t give aspirin to a child with a fever. Generally, ibuprofen is not recommended for infants younger than 6 months. The correct dose for these medicines depends on your child's weight. Also, don’t give OTC cough and cold medicines to children younger than 6 years old unless the healthcare provider tells you to do so.

Follow-up care

  • Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

  • Be sure your child finishes all medications prescribed by the doctor.

When to call 911

Call 911 immediately if your child has blue fingernails or blue lips.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever, as directed by your child’s healthcare provider, or:

    • Your baby is younger than 12 weeks old and has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. Your baby may need to be seen by his or her provider.

    • Your child has repeated fevers above 104°F (40°C) at any age.

    • Your child is younger than 2 years old and the fever lasts for more than 24 hours.

    • Your child is 2 years old or older and the fever lasts for more than 3 days.

    • Your child has had a seizure caused by the fever

  • Increased trouble breathing

  • Trouble talking because of shortness of breath

  • Trouble relaxing or sleeping after 20 minutes of steam or cool outdoor air

  • Excessive drooling

  • Severe sore throat

  • Trouble being wakened

  • Trouble feeding and drinking

  • Pale skin, sluggishness, or vomiting

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© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.