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 Click here to download this information as a PDF document (Also available in Arabic)

What is croup?

Croup is an infection of the breathing tube (trachea or windpipe) below the vocal chords (voice box). Croup is caused by a virus, so antibiotics won’t help. This virus causes the lining of the windpipe to become swollen. This causes a lot of noise when your child breathes in. Your child may also find it hard to breathe. Croup happens more often through the winter and early spring (October to May). It is most common in babies and children aged 1 to 4 years. Croup usually lasts for 5 or 6 days.

How will I know if my child hascroup?

If your child has croup, she will have:

  • Noisy breathing (especially when breathing in)
  • A bark-like cough
  • A hoarse voice

He might also have a fever, and feel unwell. With croup, breathing trouble is often worse at night. Your child may even wake up because he is having a hard time breathing.

How can I take care of my child at home?

  • Cool air. Wrap your child in a blanket and bring her outside into the cool air. You can also hold your child in front of an open window or open freezer door. If your child’s breathing is still noisy and difficult after 10-15 minutes, bring your child to the hospital.
  • Lots of rest.
  • Plenty of fluids like breastmilk, water, apple juice, popsicles, formula.
  • Treat sore throat and fever. Give your child ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®) for fever or sore throat. Do not give ibuprofen to babies under 6 months.

Bring your child to the hospital if your child:

  • Is working hard to breathe
  • Has blue lips or fingernails
  • Won’t drink
  • Has trouble swallowing
  • Is weak and has no energy
  • Starts drooling

Numbers to know

Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000

Health Information from Registered Nurses, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week TTY: 1-866-797-0007  

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