Croup may be a common childhood illness, but this doesn't mean that you won't worry about your child if they get it. This illness can be distressing for parents. Your child is likely to have an alarming cough and may find it hard to breathe easily. These symptoms sometimes look similar to chest infections, so you may think that a course of antibiotics will help your child get over their croup. Will antibiotics help?
What Is Croup?
Croup is caused by a virus. This is the same kind of bug that gives people colds and coughs. In young children, this virus can take a different turn if it affects the airways. Your child may start off with common cold symptoms but will then develop a harsh barking cough. They may breathe noisily even when they are resting. Sometimes they'll find it harder to breathe normally if their airways are a little narrowed.
How Is Croup Treated?
The virus that causes croup isn't usually bacterial. This means that your child typically won't get any benefits from having a course of antibiotics. The antibiotics won't do anything to get rid of this kind of virus. Most cases of croup clear up on their own without the need for special medical treatment. For example, you may just need to make sure that your child is comfortable and encouraged to rest. Giving them plenty of fluids may help.
In some cases, doctors prescribe a dose of a corticosteroid and then home rest. This medication helps open the airways. This makes your child's breathing easier until they shake off the virus. Rarely, some kids get complications from croup like bacterial infections or more severe breathing issues. In these cases, your child may need antibiotics or hospital treatment.
Should You Take Your Child to the Doctor?
If your child is in serious distress, then they may need to go to hospital. Signs like blue lips, unusual listlessness or an inability to swallow may be a sign that they need more treatment. However, parents generally find that they can get the extra help they need from their doctor. If you're worried that your child's croup is giving them problems you aren't happy dealing with at home, then take them to your GP.
Your doctor can help you find ways to make your child more comfortable at home. They can also explain more about how croup is affecting your child and what to expect.