Friday, February 14, 2014

How to Help Our Little Ones Get Through CROUP

Growing up, we were all croup babies in my family. If you don't know what croup is, it's basically like laryngitis in a child--it tightens/inflames their airway making their cough sound like a seal bark (if it's bad, you can often hear it when they cry and inhale as well). It can be very serious and cause respiratory distress, which means the child is not getting sufficient oxygen and may need emergency medical attention (signs of this may be the speed/effort in the neck and chest to breathe). With that said, remember croup is in the airway, so the lungs are usually clear (meaning there isn't a rattle or raspiness in their lungs . . . unless it is just mucus). If the tightness is in the lungs, that can be the sign of a respiratory infection that can lead to things like pneumonia and RSV, so you need to take the child to the doctor for further evaluation.

Well, my mom always said we would get paybacks with our kids--so now I have 3 children and ALL of them are croup babies. The other day my cousin contacted me to ask me how best to detect it and treat it at home because she thought her little boy had it. After I shared some things, I thought it might be of help to other parents dealing with croup. I'm not a doctor, but we have done some things that have worked over the years. Here is what I shared with her:

1) Steam the child in the bathroom for 10-20 min: this means turning the shower as hot as it can go, opening the curtain or door--preferably in a small bathroom where you can close the door so the steam can build up--and holding the child in your arms (or if they are bigger, have them sit next to the shower/bath) while they breathe as deeply as they can. Be careful not to get them too close to the scalding water.

2) Wrap the child very well in blankets/warm clothes/hat and take them outside in the cold night air for about 10 min and have them breathe deeply again. This can help shock the airway and open it up--especially after they have already steamed.

3) Use a humidifier at night--make sure it can reach your child and try to keep the humidity in the room by just cracking--or if it is safe--closing the door. Be careful, some children can get cold from the humidifier being on all night, so you may want to alternate 2 hours on, 2 hours off.

4) We use Baby Vapor Rub on our children's chest, neck and nose to help them breathe.

5) We also have albuterol inhalers (prescription only) that help open the airway and lungs. You can discuss this option with your doctor.

6) Finally, if your child gets croup often enough, you may be able to discuss with your doctor having an emergency prescription steroid on hand for severe cases.

Remember, most important is that the child is getting enough oxygen and not struggling to breathe. Croup is usually much worse at night and if it is manageable, may need to be treated (see above) for 2-3 nights.

If the child is struggling to breathe, get him to a Doctor or ER. They will usually check the child's oxygen levels and administer a breathing treatment and/or steroid to open the airway.

You may also want to discuss using Robitussin DM or Yellow Triaminic with your doctor. You have to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL with these medications. Overdosing is very serious. But, if you speak with your doctor and get the correct dose, these have helped our children.

Good luck! Here's to many sleepless, croup-filled nights! LOL! The good news is--they grow out of it! :)