9 February 2013

Nigeria: Croup - A Common Respiratory Problem

Croup is a disease that is not known by many. It is the narrowing of the air passages, especially the larynx and the trachea in young children. The disorder is caused by either viruses, particularly the para-influenza virus, or bacteria. In most cases, viral croup is the most common, and symptoms are usually severe and worse at night or when a child cries.

Symptoms of croup include: coughing, hoarseness and noisy/difficult breathing as a result of inflamed vocal cords. Because the larynx swells and blocks the passage of air, breathing can be very difficult, which can panic a child. Very cold weather is said to trigger an onset of croup in kids, but other causes include allergy or inhalation of a foreign body.

Croup shares similar symptoms with cold. Flu, most times, can be relieved by steam inhalation, but in the case of croup, the symptoms are aggravated. At first, symptoms like stuffy or runny nose with fever can be noticed in a child, but as the larynx and trachea get more and more inflamed, the child's voice becomes hoarser with a harsh and barking cough.

Most cases of croup are mild and can be treated at home. There are some home remedies available. Hot honey and lemon drink can ease symptoms. Due to the anti-bacterial properties of honey, it can help in the case of bacterial croup. Lemon has a range of therapeutic properties which makes it one of the main ingredients of any good home remedy for chest.

Also, a few drops of eucalyptus oil can be placed on a handkerchief and placed by the child's bed to ease breathing and encourage good relaxation.

Serious cases of croup may make a child appear pale or turn blue due to lack of oxygen. Urgent medical assistance should be sought immediately.

Avoiding contact with people with respiratory infections, and frequent hand washing are two best ways to prevent spreading the viruses responsible for croup.

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