Croup: The Cough that Sounds like a Seal

Croup Cough FAQs

What Is Croup?

 Croup is a relatively common respiratory condition that is marked by a barking cough, commonly described as a "cough that sounds like a seal."  Other symptoms are difficult or labored breathing. These two tale-tale symptoms are caused by an acute viral infection in the upper away that cause swelling around the vocal cords. Croup usually occurs in fall and winter months and sometimes in early spring months when the weather is still cool. The viral infection that triggers croup cough can be caused by a number of things including allergies, and bacteria among other things. Croup is a common ailment among infants, toddlers, and small children. This ailment is either characterized as laryngotracheobronchitis- acute, spasmodic croup or viral croup.

 How to Prevent Croup

 The most dangerous forms of croup are prevented with certain immunizations that are common place or required for school aged children such as the vaccinations for diphtheria, measles, and Haemophilus influenzae. Frequent hand washing and limited contact with those who have a respiratory infection are the best way to prevent croup.

Treatment for Croup Cough

 Most cases of croup cough can be treated at home but a diagnosis and course of treatment form a doctor is always best. Since the cause of most croup infections is viral there is no cure, but treatment can ease symptoms and help to avoid prolonged symptoms. Although it may seem counter-intuitive cough medicines should be avoid. Those suffering from croup should be kept calm to avoid labored breathing and coughing spells. Moist air, from a cool air vaporizer, a steamy shower, or the cool night air may bring relief. Acetaminophen may also be used to help lower fever. If these home remedies don’t work a doctor may choose to introduce steroid medications to relieve symptoms. Moderate to sever croup that requires hospitalization may be treated with epinephrine.

 Croup Cough in Infants

Croup is common in babies. It is very likely that a physician will not prescribe medication to infants with croup. Crying or laughing will worsen croup so it is best to keep baby as calm and comfortable as possible. Typically a baby will not have and trouble or difficulty eating when they have croup and will tend to stick with their regular eating habits through out the duration of their bout with croup.

 Croup Cough in Toddlers

Croup in toddlers is as common as croup in babies. The onset of symptoms is usually very sudden. A toddler’s infection can be controlled by limiting the child’s activity level. Running and rigorous play should be avoided. A decreased appetite in toddlers suffering from croup is common. A steamy bath at bedtime will might lessen symptoms.


The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information in this article does not create a physician-patient relationship.