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HealthInfo Canterbury



Phone 111 for an ambulance if a child with croup:

  • has noisy breathing with both in and out breaths
  • has difficulty speaking
  • is struggling to breath
  • is turning blue or grey
  • is very distressed.

Croup is an infection of the upper airway. It is usually caused by a virus that makes the voice box (larynx) swell, which blocks the windpipe (trachea). It is more common in young children, under the age of 3.

Croup is not usually serious, and you can usually safely treat it at home. But if your child is having difficulty breathing, take them to a doctor straight away.

How do I know if my child has croup?

CroupThe symptoms of croup can last for three to five days. They include:

How can I help a child with croup?

Make sure you stay calm and reassure your child. Having croup can be scary, but agitation or crying makes it worse.

Steroids (corticosteroids) are used in severe croup to help prevent any breathing problems. They are anti-inflammatories and help reduce any swelling in your child's airways. If your child has had a bad night with croup, or is still having problems during the day, talk to your GP about whether steroids would help.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2017.


Page reference: 47572

Review key: HICRP-34398