What is Croup?
“Croup is an infection of the upper airway, generally in children, which obstructs breathing and causes a characteristic barking cough.”
Croup is a spasm of the larynx (voice box) that develops from a viral infection in children three months to four years. The hoarse, barking cough and trouble breathing appear unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Because children may have only mild hoarseness and a cough during the day, the middle-of-the-night spasms are frightening to both the children and their parents as they seem to appear without warning.
Croup isn’t a “germ” in itself. You can’t “catch croup” exactly, because croup isn’t contagious , croup is going to start as some sort of virus, including the common cold (sometimes but not often a bacterial infection), and if the vocal chords, windpipe, and bronchial tubes become infected and inflamed (swollen), they cause a cough that sounds like a seal barking.
Croup is often also marked by a high-pitched whistling sound on the breath, called “stridor.” It is more common in children and babies than adults, and most outgrow the tendency toward croup as they reach middle elementary.
Coping with croup
– Steam treatment, the steam needs to be followed by the shock of the cold air or it won’t be as effective (or at all).
– Go outside and have your child breathe fresh cold air or open the freezer to get coold air
-Warm compress on chest (with oils if available, eucalyptus and peppermint are important for opening airways, mixed with a carrier oil)
– Humidifier /vaporizer in room (cool air style recommended, sometimes two in one room)
– Popsicles to cool the throat directly
– Children’s Ibuprofen to reduce swelling at night, not natural but probably preferable to steroid treatment or a hospital stay
– Cinnamon, thyme, and clove essentials oils in a steam tent
– Elderberry syrup, good for both general immunity boosting and upper respiratory support.
– Homeopathy, see below
– Vitamin C and zinc lozenges are helpful for immune support during croup and as a preventive
Homeopathy can work wonders for croup. As a parent, it is a definite relief to be able to do something that is effective and safe during a frightening croup attack. Offer homeopathic remedies to quickly reduce coughing and prevent recurrences on subsequent nights. If you have a young child, keep three remedies on hand so you’re prepared to settle an attack of croup.
Remedy 1: Aconitum napellis
Give Aconite on the first night, when the cough develops without warning and sounds alarmingly loud and dry. Be prepared for your child to be clingy, crying, and anxious. Aconite is also a great remedy to have on hand for the initial stages of other coughs, colds, and earaches, especially if they are caused by a chill or a cold wind. Give this remedy once or twice, and you will rarely need to follow with another. If your child continues to awaken or if the cough returns the following night, change to a different remedy.
Remedy 2: Spongia tosta
Made from toasted sponge, Spongia is excellent for croup because it is used for respiratory infections and asthma accompanied by hoarseness that threatens suffocation and worsens with sleep. Homeopaths describe the cough as a saw going through wood. You may hear noise or whistling as the child breathes, but the air passages are dry. Asthmatics often have thick mucous and inflammation in the bronchioles even though it sounds dry.
Remedy 3: Hepar sulphuris calcareum
Whenever you hear wetness or rattling in the croupy cough, choose Hepar sulph. This remedy will resolve a croupy cough that develops very late at night or in the early morning hours (between two and five a.m.). Be sure to keep the child well wrapped and away from chill, as Hepar sulph brings on a strong sensitivity to the cold.
How to Take Remedies
Homeopathy works best when given one remedy at a time. Let the symptoms guide your choice. Give two to five 30C pills hourly, on the tongue as needed. For young children, crush the pills between two spoons and either administer them crushed or dissolve them in 1/4 cup (60 mL) water and offer the child one spoonful at a time, stirring between spoonfuls.
Seek emergency medical help for a child with croup who drools, cannot swallow saliva, and has a fever and very sore throat. He or she may have epiglottitis, a dangerous condition caused by swelling of the “lid” that covers the larynx when we swallow.