What's going around: croup

WATE 6 On Your Side staff - KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- East Tennessee Children's Hospital says croup is one of the most common respiratory illnesses that sends kids to the hospital

Dr. Katy Stordahl, an emergency room physician at the children's hospital, says croup is a viral infection in the upper airway, around the vocal cords and windpipe. She says it is marked by a distinctive bark-like cough that won't go away.

Signs and symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose and fever accompanied by any of the following:

  • Barking cough
  • High-pitched whistling sound when breathing in
  • Struggling to breath

Dr. Stordahl says the illness is most dangerous for babies and toddlers because it can cut off their air supply. She says kids under the age of five get it most often because their airways are smaller

Croup is spread through coughing, sneezing and respiratory secretions, according to Dr. Stordyl. She says children with croup should be considered contagious for about three days after illness begins or until fever is gone.

If symptoms are mild, Dr. Stordahl says parents can help ease symptoms with a cool-mist humidifier. She says children should be brought to the emergency room is they are struggling to breath or swallow, have a pale or bluish color around their mouth or if a parent can see ribs pulling in when the child gasps for breath.

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