Croup is a viral illness, most often caused by a virus known as the parainfluenza virus.
What often begins as a typical upper respiratory infection (like the common cold), causes swelling of the voice box and wind pipe. Symptoms can include a runny nose and congestion, a barky cough, fever, and stridor (a high-pitched sound when a child breathes in). If you suspect your child has croup it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately. Croup can be very dangerous if it is not monitored closely.
A pediatrician will examine your child and listen to their breathing to determine if they have croup. Because croup is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not effective in its treatment. Your pediatrician might prescribe medications and breathing treatments to help decrease swelling and to allow your child to breathe more comfortably. In severe cases, hospital treatment might be necessary to closely monitor and treat your child. Otherwise, supportive measures such as keeping air humidified; bringing your child into cold air; and keeping her as calm as possible will help your child breathe easier.