I was making my way back into my room as I stumbled across my daughter’s room, which was filled with toys on the ground.I felt like a zombie. I was going back and forth, constantly checking on my children’s breathing, constantly making sure their humidifier had enough water in it to sustain them throughout the night.

As I finally crawled into my bed, my husband rolled over and gently rubbed my back. I broke down in tears. Most likely from exhaustion, but also feeling so helpless that there was nothing I could do for my two babies.

Croup. It’s that season. It seems to be spreading like wildfire here, and unfortunately, there are no antibiotics you can give you kids.

So how did we make it through our croup week? And what can you do to help your children if they get it?

What is Croup?

Croup is a virus which is commonly known as a parainfluenza virus, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your child most likely obtained the virus by other people coughing or sneezing into the air. Although,the virus can also survive on toys and other surfaces. Basically, it’s a pretty nasty cold with just a couple different symptoms.

Warning Signs of Croup

For my children this season, it started with a high fever two day in advance of their coughs. I thought it was odd as their personalities somewhat remained the same, but their fevers lingered throughout the day. One morning, my daughter woke up with a tight cough in her chest, and her voice completely gone. Her cough sounded painful and she told me it hurt as well. Most doctors explain the cough as a “barking” cough, but tome, it just sounds tight and painful. Her energy was not as high, and she had as lightly stuffy nose. The worst of it though, was at night. Her cough grew worse and it couldn’t be stopped. Cough drops didn’t help and neither did a drink of water (Hence, my sleepless nights).  Unfortunately for us, croup is very contagious and it’s hard when you have multiple children to keep the others from getting infected.

How to Help  

According to WebMD, there are four things you can do to help your little one.

  • Keep her calm. Croup causes your little one’s airways to get inflamed and narrow. This can make it hard for her to breath. But the more she cries, the more worked-up she gets, the worse her symptoms will become. Try to keep your baby as calm as possible. Sing to her,cuddle with her, and read her stories.
  •  Moisten the air. Use a cool-mist humidifier to moisten dry air. If you don’t have a humidifier, run a hot shower in your bathroom. Once the air is nice and steamy, sit in the bathroom with your baby for 10 minutes. It may help quell her cough. If it’s cool outside,open a door or a window for a few minutes. Fresh, cool air may calm her symptoms, too. You might even take your baby for a car ride with the window srolled down.
  • Give her fluids. It’s important to keep your baby hydrated if she has croup. Warm, clear fluids can help loosen mucus and take pressure off her vocal cords. If she’s very young or really cranky, give her small amounts of fluid using a spoon or medicine dropper.
  •  Keep her head elevated. Prop up your little one’s head with an extra pillow when she turns in at night. But don’t use pillows with babies under 12 months of age. You might also consider sleeping in the same room with your child so you can know right away if she starts having breathing problems.

I started to worry when my daughter had this painful, barking cough for two days. I decided to take her to the doctor and was reassured because most of the children who were coming in were croup cases as well. The doctor prescribed a steroid to give to my daughter and son.They were small blue-ish green pills that I was to crush and put in their food.Unfortunately, there is no antibiotic for croup. Most cases, you can just ride out at home. But for me, I knew my daughter was off, and I was worried. The doctor also recommended popsicles to help the swelling of the throat. And at night, a humidifier with her head propped with pillows. To try and stop croup from spreading I was told to disinfect, disinfect, disinfect. We like to use Lysol wipes at my home. So we were wiping down door handles, toys, TV remotes,cell phones – you name it! Try and kill the germs before they spread, although this can be hard when your child is coughing. Try and teach your toddler to cough into their arm, not their hand, or to cough in a tissue and throw the tissue away. When you think your child is getting over croup, I always like to wash their bedding.

When to Take Your Child to the ER

According to the Mayo Clinic, about five percent of children seen in the ER for croup require hospitalization. Seek immediate medical attention if your child:

  • Makes noisy,high-pitched breathing sounds (stridor) both when inhaling and exhaling
  • Begins drooling or has difficulty swallowing
  • Seems anxious and agitated or fatigued and listless
  • Breathes at a faster rate than usual
  • Struggles to breathe
  • Develops blue or grayish skin around the nose, mouth or fingernails (cyanosis)

It’s scary being a parent this time of year. I wish I could take all the sickness from my little ones and put it upon me. It’s so sad not seeing them act their normal happy selves. Luckily, we live in a day and age where there are doctors, and fellow parents experiencing the same thing we are. It’s okay to go to the doctor, or the ER, if you think your child is seriously ill. To me, there is no price for my child’s health. Try your hardest to remain calm, relaxed and in charge during this sick season. But there is at least one pro to the sickness that goes around, cuddles. Soak up the cuddle sessions and try your hardest to get sleep.

For more information about croup, visit: MayoClinic and Web MD.