What are the symptoms of croup?Croup features a cough that sounds like a seal barking. Most children have what appears to be a mild cold for several days before the barking cough becomes evident. As the cough gets more frequent, the child may have labored breathing or stridor (a harsh, crowing noise made during inspiration). Croup has a characteristic cough that sounds like a barking seal. This
cough is what sets croup apart from other upper respiratory infections. Croup often begins abruptly, most often in the middle of the night. Typically, a young child will have some cold symptoms but will seem okay when put to bed. The parents are awakened in the middle of the night by the barking sound of the croupy cough. This often occurs in spasms and may even cause the child to vomit. The child often feels that he or she cannot breathe.
Croup is typically much worse at night. It often lasts 5 or 6 nights, but the first night or two are usually the most severe. Rarely, croup can last for weeks. Croup that lasts longer than a week or recurs frequently should be discussed with your doctor to determine the cause. Often the croupy cough is accompanied by a noise called stridor. This noise is made when the child is breathing in, or inhaling. Stridor is actually a more worrisome symptom than the cough because it means that the airway has narrowed significantly. This is especially true if the child has stridor when he or she is at rest and is not upset or crying.