Natural Treatments for Croup

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We did it!  We conquered croup!   Last week my three year old came down with his first case of croup ever (and I do hope that it is his last.)  Hopefully, your child hasn’t contracted it, but croup is running wild in the High Country right now so you might want to keep your ears open just in case.  If you haven’t had it yet, here is how to identify it and beat it just in case it comes knocking at  your door:

What is it? Croup is a virus that can be recognized by a barking cough that sounds a lot like a seal.  Since croup is a virus most physicians will instruct you to allow it to run its course since antibiotics are not beneficial for it.  Croup is typically contracted by children 5 years and under and causes swelling of the throat and vocal cords, which causes labored breathing, hoarseness and that terrible cough that is typically worse at night.  It is normal for children to have a low grade fever and not be interested in eating.  It also may be typical for your child to spit up or throw up once or twice during the illness.  The illness will take between 3 and 7 days to finish it’s dirty work.  A wet cough may persist for another week or more, but your child is not contagious.

When should I call the doctor? In very rare cases croup can turn into a bacterial infection that can be typically recognized by difficulty in swallowing and a sore throat.  Other complications can include extreme labored breathing that include a blueish tent around the mouth or under the finger nails.  Both cases are rare, but don’t wait in calling a physician or taking your child to the ER in either extreme circumstances.

Is it Contagious? The word on the street is that croup is highly contagious (although I am SO thankful that my daughter didn’t contract it).  A child is typically contagious while they have a slight fever.  Otherwise, if they just have a cough you can return them to school or daycare.

What do I do? Croup can be scary if you have never dealt with it before.  I really didn’t enjoy my son not being able to talk, or hearing him having difficulty breathing. And, even though croup can be full of sleepless nights and no fun at all there are many things that you can do to help make your child more comfortable.

Supplements: I started off by giving both my children an immune booster, I have made homemade Elderberry syrup from a purchase at the Bulk Herb Store.  It was highly recommended to use the Herbs for Kids Cherry Bark Blend and we have been using it with great success!  This blend is a throat and respiratory support so it would be great to keep on hand for any respiratory illnesses.

Before Bed: Sit with your child in the bathroom with a hot shower running for 10-15 minutes.  The steam will help open up the airways.  Then wrap up your little on in a blanket and take them out on the front porch for 10 minutes or so.  The cool night air will really help them stop coughing.  You can also put a few drop of essential oil on the bottom of the shower.

At Night: Keep a cool mist humidifier in your child’s room running at night with a few drops of essential oil like eucalyptus or white camphor that will open up the airway.  You can also rub a salve like vicks or another rub that contains menthol on your child’s feet to help with the coughing.  Or, you can even make a homemade salve with a few tablespoons of olive oil and white camphor or eucalyptus to rub on your child’s chest, spine, and feet. At night, if your child wakes up with a coughing fit follow the before bed routine to soothe that cough.  I don’t typically recommend conventional drugs, but ibuprofen is recommended to reduce swelling in the airways.  If you do give ibuprofen I recommend giving the herb, milk thistle with it as well.  Milk thistle will protect the liver which is the danger with giving drugs like ibuprofen and Tylenol.

After the Worst is Over: When your child starts having a wet cough have them drink lots of fluids as well as continue taking the Herbs for Kids Cherry Bark Blend.  You can also continue using the cool mist humidifier to soothe that leftover cough.