Health A-Z

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Your doctor probably will recommend actions to make breathing easier until the infection goes away.

These include:

  • Rest or quiet play

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve any discomfort

  • Drinking plenty of fluids. This will prevent dehydration and help to move mucus out of the airways.

  • A cool mist vaporizer. Cool mist soothes and moistens the inflamed airways and helps mucus drain.

In some cases, your doctor also may prescribe corticosteroid drugs to relieve airway inflammation. These include dexamethasone, prednisone or prednisolone.

Most children with croup have mild forms of the illness that can be treated at home. In particular, spasmodic croup often improves dramatically with only a cool mist vaporizer.

In rare cases, a child with croup can develop severe breathing problems that must be treated in a hospital. There, the child can receive oxygen, epinephrine (a drug that opens the airways), corticosteroids and other measures to aid breathing.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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