Many parents of young children have had to deal with the illness known as croup at some time. Also known as laryngotracheobronchitis, croup is a respiratory illness which is often caused by a viral infection in the upper airway. The infection causes swelling inside the throat causing an impediment to normal breathing. The interference to the child’s breathing is what causes the barking cough and hoarseness. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe, and often send parents to the emergency room with their sick child. In the emergency room the doctor will first rule out other more serious causes of the symptoms, such as epiglottitis or some foreign object blocking the airway, and then treat if necessary. Treatment usually involves one dose of oral steroids and sometimes epinephrine in more severe incidents. Rarely is hospitalization needed.
Croup is a relatively common illness which affects about 15% of all children between 6 months old and 5-6 years old at some time, but it is extremely rare in teens and adults.
As an emergency room physician, Dr. Josyann Abisaab treats children with croup when they arrive in the emergency room seeking care for their distressing and sometimes frightening illness.