This pamphlet explains what croup is, how it is spread, what symptoms it causes and what to watch for if your child has the virus. A list of symptoms that require you to take your child to the Emergency Department is provided. The French version of this pamphlet 2191, "Croup (diphtérie laryngienne," is also available.
Croup is an inflammation of the larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), and large airways occurring in young children. The illness may begin with a runny nose, followed several days later by a harsh, barky (seal-like) cough, and hoarse voice. As the windpipe below the voice box narrows, noisy breathing (stridor) occurs as the child breathes in. Symptoms of croup often start suddenly during the night when the child awakens with a cough. Fever frequently is present.