February 5, 1996
Web posted at: 6:00 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Linda Ciampa
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN)--A few weeks ago, 10-month-old Kristina Toreno came down with a loud, low-toned cough and suffered from breathing problems. Her frightened parents had little idea what was wrong.
Kristina has now recovered, but her mother will not easily forget her illness. (102K AIFF sound or 102K WAV sound)
Kristina was diagnosed with croup, a viral infection that causes the trachea to swell near the vocal cords, making it hard to breathe. And it causes a barking cough that grows progressively worse throughout the night.
Croup can strike anytime during the year, but it is most common during the late fall and early winter. And any child can get croup, but it usually strikes those under the age of three.
Croup in adults shows up as a simple cold or sometimes laryngitis. Dr. Mark Stegelman says children often are infected by their parents, who don't realize they have the virus "so they don't think about the spread of the illness."
Although children with croup sound frighteningly ill, in most cases, a few home remedies can ease the symptoms.
Increased humidity can make a child's breathing easier, and humidity can be increased by running a cool mist vaporizer in the child's room or cracking a window and keeping the room cool and less dry than the rest of the house. Or parents can have the child stand next to a hot shower and breath in steam.
However, doctors don't want parents to waste too much time trying home remedies to treat a child with croup. If symptoms don't subside within 10 to 20 minutes of treatment, then parents should bring the child to a hospital for immediate attention.
Dr. Stegelman says bringing the child to the hospital is important because untreated croup can progress to a more serious illness. (102K AIFF sound or 102K WAV sound)
Overall, children are generally not hospitalized for croup, but sometimes doctors will prescribe medication that can alleviate the symptoms of the illness.
And, usually within days of treatment, children like Kristina are back to their energetic ways.
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