Information for Patients
Croup is an inflammation of the vocal cords (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). It causes difficulty breathing, a barking cough, and a hoarse voice. The cause is usually a virus, often parainfluenza virus. Other causes include allergies and reflux.
Croup often starts out like a cold. But then the vocal cords and windpipe become swollen, causing the hoarseness and the cough. There may also be a fever and high-pitched noisy sounds when breathing. The symptoms are usually worse at night, and last for about three to five days. Children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years have the highest risk of getting croup. They may also have more severe symptoms. Croup is more common in the fall and winter.
Most cases of viral croup are mild and can be treated at home. Rarely, croup can become serious and interfere with your child's breathing. If you are worried about your child's breathing, call your health care provider right away.
Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx. The technical name for your throat is the pharynx.
Throat problems are common. You've probably had a sore throat. The cause is usually a viral infection, but other causes include allergies, infection with strep bacteria or the leaking of stomach acids back up into the esophagus, called GERD.
Other problems that affect the throat include
- Tonsillitis - inflammation of the tonsils
- Croup - inflammation, usually in small children, which causes a barking cough
- Laryngitis - swelling of the voice box, which can cause a hoarse voice or loss of voice
Most throat problems are minor and go away on their own. Treatments, when needed, depend on the problem.