Croup in children
Croup is a childhood condition that makes it difficult to
breathe. Croup is caused by the inflammation of the windpipe
(trachea) and the voice box (larynx).
Children with croup have difficulty breathing, a distinctive
barking cough and may have a croaky voice.
Croup can usually be diagnosed by a GP and treated at home. If
an attack of croup is severe and doesn’t go away, call 999 or
112 for emergency help.
There is a small risk that they may have a rare but similar
condition called epiglottitis. The epiglottis is a small flap of
tissue at the base of the tongue which keeps food from going down
the windpipe when swallowing. If this gets infected and swollen it
can block the airway.
If you think a child might have epiglottitis, it’s a medical
emergency and you need to call 999 or 112 immediately.
Watch our video - What to do if your baby has croup
What to look for - croup
If you think a child may have croup, these are the four key
things to look for:
- 1. Distressed breathing
- 2. A short barking cough
- 3. Rasping noise and croaky voice
- 4. Blue-grey skin
What you need to do - croup
• Stay calm and don’t panic, as this will alarm them and
probably make the attack of croup worse.
• Sit them on your knee, supporting their back, and reassure
• If the croup is severe, call 999 or 112 for emergency medical
• If they have a high temperature too, then suspect epiglottitis
and call 999 or 112 immediately.
• When you’re waiting for help to arrive, keep checking the
child's breathing, pulse and level of response.