Croup is a respiratory viral infection that frequently affects children. The infection impacts the upper respiratory tract, causing it to narrow and leading to increased difficulty in breathing. The tissues surrounding the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea) swell. When a cough expels air through this constricted pathway, it can result in a seal barking-like noise. Inhaling often leads to the production of a high-pitched whistling sound known as stridor. Although the illness is typically not serious, severe and life-threatening symptoms can develop.

Croup is very infectious as the viruses responsible for the condition can easily be transmitted from person to person. Infants and children under the age of three are mostly affected by this condition. As the child become older, the infection becomes less common. This occurs because their windpipes widen, reducing the likelihood of swelling obstructing their breathing. Mild cases of croup may be treated at home.


Croup symptoms normally last less than a week. In most cases, symptoms get worse at night. Runny or stuffy nose is a common early symptom that often develops gradually. Mild to severe cases of croup may develop symptoms, such as:

  • Fever
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • A loud barking cough that is exacerbated by weeping, coughing, anxiety, and distress
  • Noisy or labored breathing
  • Rash
  • Eye redness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Restlessness
  • Retractions, or sucking in the skin on top of the child’s breastbone and around their ribcage
  • Cyanosis

If the child experiences a fever persisting beyond three days, or mild croup symptoms that endure for more than a week, it is advisable to contact a healthcare provider. This is essential to ensure the child’s well-being and address any uncertainties or prolonged symptoms.

If the child experiences severe or worsening croup symptoms, it is crucial to promptly seek immediate medical assistance. The critical signs and symptoms to watch out for include difficulties in breathing, a bluish discoloration of the skin, severe coughing spells, trouble swallowing or excessive drooling, the inability to cry or speak due to breathing difficulties, the presence of a loud, high-pitched whistling sound during breathing, and the skin around the child’s ribs and the top of their breastbone retracting inward. Recognizing and acting upon these symptoms promptly is vital for the child’s health and safety.


Your child can contract a virus when inhaling infected respiratory droplets, expelled into the air through coughs or sneezes. Additionally, virus particles within these droplets can persist on toys and various surfaces. A child could get croup if they touch a surface that has a virus on it and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

A viral infection is typically the primary underlying cause of croup. Parainfluenza, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), measles, and adenovirus are some of the viruses that cause croup. The swelling of the child’s upper airways brought on by viral croup makes breathing challenging for them.

Risk factors

It is most common in children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. Boys are also more likely to have it than girls. Generally, younger children are more likely to experience more croup symptoms due to their small airways. Older children rarely contract croup.