Top Tip - Croup

Croup - What is it?

Croup is a common childhood condition that babies and children can suffer from. The condition affects the upper part of the respiratory system. 

Although a child can develop croup at any time of the year it is more common in late autumn and early winter. Download our Croup Fact Sheet here!

The two main causes of croup. 

Viruses are often the cause of croup. It causes the voice box (larynx) to become swollen, the windpipe (trachea) to become blocked and affect the small tubes in the lungs (bronchi) too. 

At first the symptoms of croup are similar to a common cold.

Spasmodic croup is less common and normally comes on suddenly and can be caused by an allergic reaction. 

Other causes of croup:

·     Epiglottitis – inflammation of the epiglottis

·     Reflux 

·     Inhalation of chemicals 

·     Inhaling a small object like a peanut

Some children may suffer with cold like symptoms for a few days before developing croup.

These symptoms may include: 

·     Sore throat 

·     Runny nose

·     Fever 

·     cough

Typical signs of croup could include:

·     Barking Cough 

·     Hoarse or croaky voice

·     Difficulty in breathing 

·     A strange noise when the child breaths in called stridor 

Symptoms tend to get worse at night.

Croup normally only lasts for a few days but it can occasionally last longer. 


When to seek medical help

Croup can usually be diagnosed by a GP and mild cases can be managed at home however if your child develops any of the following symptoms seek immediate medical assistance or call for an ambulance 


·     Severe difficulty in breathing 

·     Stridor or a worsening cough

·     An increased breathing rate ( to breathless to feed or talk)

·     Difficulty in hearing them breath (silent chest)

·     Pale or blue- tinged skin

·     Muscles around the chest being over worked

      (they may look like they are being sucked in around the ribs)

·     Abnormal drowsiness and sleepiness 

·     Rapid heart rate 

·     A very high temperature

·     Unable to take on fluids

Remember ring 999 for an ambulance if needed. 

Its not always easy to start looking up the signs of croup in the middle of the night when you have a poorly child, download our CROUP QUICK LOOK fact sheet here and stick it somewhere easy to get to. (we think inside the door of your child’s wardrobe is a great idea!)

Remember you can learn all about croup in on of our award winning first aid courses for parents and carers. Search for a local course HERE! 

The NHS have some information on Croup here





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