Discharge Instructions for Croup

Your child has been diagnosed with croup, 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 medication that relieves 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 the child’s bed during and after an attack.

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

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

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

  • A fever of 100°F to 101°F 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: Do not give aspirin to a child with a fever. Generally, ibuprofen is not recommended for infants younger than 6 months. The correct dose for these medications depends on your child's weight. Also, do not give OTC cough and cold medicines to children under 6 years old unless the doctor 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 seek medical care

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

Otherwise, call the child’s doctor if your child has:

  • Fever

    • In an infant under 3 months old, a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C)

    • In a child 3 to 36 months, a rectal temperature of 102°F (39.0°C) or higher

    • In a child of any age who has a temperature of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher

    • A fever that lasts more than 24-hours in a child under 2 years old or for 3 days in a child 2 years or older

    • 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

  • Difficulty being wakened

  • Trouble feeding and drinking

  • Paleness, sluggishness, or vomiting