Can mild croup symptoms be successfully treated at home?

Updated: Oct 09, 2019
  • Author: Germaine L Defendi, MD, MS, FAAP; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Most children with mild croup symptoms can be successfully treated at home by their caregivers. Cool mist from a humidifier and/or sitting with the child in a bathroom (not in the shower) filled with steam generated by running hot water from the shower, help minimize symptoms. An adult caregiver should stay with the child during mist treatment. Engaging the child in a calming activity, such as reading a favorite book, can help decrease the child's anxiety and minimize crying, which can worsen stridor. Other suggestions for home treatment of mild croup include:

  • Treat fever with an antipyretic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. 
  • Encourage oral intake.
  • Coughing can be treated with warm, clear fluids to loosen mucus in the oropharynx  
  • Frozen juice popsicles also can be given to ease throat soreness
  • Avoid smoking in the home; smoke can worsen a child's cough.
  • Keep the child's head elevated.
    • An infant can be placed in a car seat.
    • A child may be propped up in bed with an extra pillow.
    • Pillows should not be used with infants younger than 12 months of age.
  • At nighttime, parents/caregivers should stay in close proximity to the ill child so that they can immediately assist the child, if he or she begins to have difficulty breathing.

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