Croup: Managing a Croup Attack
Top of the page Actionset
Croup: Managing a Croup Attack
Using techniques to help your child control symptoms of croup can help prevent the need to see a doctor at a clinic or emergency room. These techniques focus on keeping your child's airway open to make breathing easier.
- Keep calm and soothe your child. Anxiety and panic can make symptoms worse.
- Recognize that symptoms often sound and appear worse than they really are.
- Use moisture.
How can you help manage your child's croup episode?
A croup attack usually can be managed at home. To help manage your child's episode of croup:
- Keep calm. An episode of severe coughing and breathing difficulty from croup can be unsettling or frightening. But it is usually not as severe as it sounds. Staying calm will help reassure your child and may prevent symptoms from becoming worse.
- Use techniques that soothe and comfort your child. If your child becomes upset and anxious, croup symptoms may get worse. For example, crying can make breathing more difficult. Provide comfort by holding or rocking your child. You may also be able to distract your child by reading a book, working a puzzle, or watching television.
- Try running a hot shower to create steam. Do NOT put your child in the hot shower. Let the bathroom fill with steam. Have your child breathe in the moist air for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Take your child outside. Exposure to cool outdoor air often helps open a child's airways, reducing the coughing and breathing difficulty of a croup attack. Make sure your child is bundled up appropriately before going out.
If symptoms improve with these methods, put your child back in bed with the humidifier blowing nearby. Do not smoke, especially in the house. If the episode occurs during the middle of the night, it is a good idea to sleep in or near your child's room until morning.
It is important to keep your child well hydrated. Offer water, non-caffeinated drinks, flavoured ice treats (such as Popsicles), or crushed ice drinks several times each hour.
Your child may have recurrent attacks throughout the night. As long as symptoms improve with these methods, even briefly, your child should gradually feel better and you likely will not need immediate medical care.
But if at any time your child has severe difficulty breathing , call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
Current as of: September 9, 2014
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service representative, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.