Croup and cough are both respiratory diseases caused by viruses. Although they are both very similar in nature and have similar symptoms, there are a few significant differences between a croup and cough. Come along with us in this article as we discuss about croups and coughs, and how they are different!
Croup is an inflammation of the airways which causes a blockage in the airways, making breathing difficult, which usually degenerates into some more severe issues like barky cough.
Due to the small size of their airways, children who are between the ages of 6months and 5years are at a higher risk of having croup; older children can also have croup. Croup is mostly mild in children and will rarely require having a child hospitalized since it can be easily home-treated.
In extreme cases though, you would find a child in the hospital for croup but this is a rare occurrence. While it is uncommon for adults to have croup, it is not impossible and it is usually very severe in adults.
Causes Of Croup
The most common cause of croup is the viral infection known as parainfluenza virus. Particles of this virus are circulated through infected droplets from a carrier’s cough or sneeze.
After being passed into the air by a carrier’s cough, the droplets land on surfaces and if your child comes in contact with the infected surface and touches his nose, eye or mouth with the contact body part, the infection may be transmitted.
Croup can also be as a result of allergies your child has or even acid reflux. The chances of your child contracting croup are higher during spring and winter seasons.
Symptoms Of Croup
Basically, croup begins with the common cold. This is the initial symptom of croup. Cold gradually degenerates into barky cough. A child with barky cough tends to cry a lot and get agitated, alongside the cough.
As the condition progresses, it worsens and the child begins to show symptoms of fever, labored breathing, and croaky voice due to swelling of the vocal cords. You might observe that these symptoms literally worsen during the night and tend to last for about 3 to 8days.
Treatment For Croup
Here are some important steps to take in order to prevent croup for your child.
Since croup usually begins with a typical cold, it is important to prevent cold for your child by:
- Washing hands frequently.
- Ensuring your child sneezes and coughs into their elbows.
- Avoiding contact with a sick person.
- Ensuring your child’s vaccinations are up to date to prevent any other infections or diseases.
However, if your child already has croup, do the following to help your child recover:
Heat up water and encourage your child to inhale the steam as breathing in humid air would help decongest the airways.
Keep your child’s head in an elevated position while he is sleeping; this should help reduce coughing during the night.
Make water available for your child to drink as he needs to take in lots of fluids.
Administer medications prescribed by your doctor to your child. Steroids and nebulized epinephrine are some medications your doctor is likely to prescribe.
Cough is basically the rapid and forceful release of air from the lungs which comes out with a hoarse or harsh sound. This action could either be a reflex or deliberate action to clear one’s airways of mucus, microbes or any other foreign bodies that are obstructing passage of air.
Although cough is mostly always to clear the throat, it could also be a sign of a more severe disease.
Causes Of Cough
Cough can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from mild to severe.
Mild coughs are mostly caused by any of the following:
- Inflammation of the bronchial tubes, known as bronchitis.
- Inflammation of the larynx, known as laryngitis
- Flu or cold.
Severe coughs are mostly caused by one of the following:
- This is the most common cause of coughs in children.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This is also a common cause of cough in children.
- Post-nasal drip. This is less common than asthma, but also causes cough in children.
- Adults with smoking habits are very prone to chronic cough.
- Tuberculosis or infections in the lungs. Adults are more prone to this but these causes are not so common.
Symptoms Of Cough
Severe coughs are usually accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Swelling around the neck
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Labored breathing
- Aches in the chest
- Violent ,bloody coughs
- Change in voice
- Weight loss
Treatment For Cough
Mild, short-term coughs rarely require your child to be hospitalized as they can be treated at home with little medical aid. To treat this kinds of cough, you can:
Administer cough medicines to your child. Ensure you seek medical opinion before giving your child any over-the-counter cough medication as not all cough syrups are healthy for children due to their compositions. For an adult, you can take expectorants and other cough suppressants to alleviate the cough.
Honey soothes the throat and helps to reduce irritation in the throat and may likely lessen the coughs. Generally, the immune system should be allowed to deal with mild coughs caused by viral infections. These kinds of cough often clear up with time, on their own within one to two weeks.
However, more severe, long-term coughs might require a visit to your doctor for check up as it might be a sign of a more severe illness that needs immediate medical attention.
What Is The Difference Between Croup And Cough
Below are the outlined differences between a croup and cough.
While a croup is caused by parainfluenza virus, coughs are caused by bacterial infections.
Cough could be a small part of a bigger illness but a croup is usually just a croup.
While coughs can be treated with cough medications and some other home remedies, croups are treated with nebulized epinephrine and steroids.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is A Barky Cough Always Croup?
Although barky cough is mostly caused by croup, there are other conditions that can cause a barky cough. Some of these conditions are cold and running nose, blockage in the airways, or asthma.
Is Croup Linked To Covid?
Yes! Croup is linked to Covid. Studies show that compared to most other viruses, Covid is a more severe cause of croup.
What Can Be Mistaken For Croup?
There are a few other conditions that mimic croup, having similar symptoms. These conditions include the bacterial infection known as Epiglottises and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Croup can also sometimes be mistaken for asthma as both are similar in nature, affecting the airways.
When Should I Worry About Croup?
Since croup is a condition that affects the airways, difficulties in breathing are expected. However, if you begin to experience stridor (breathing accompanied by high-pitched, harsh, vibrating noise), this signifies that the airways are narrowing and you should go see a doctor at this point.
It is also important that you see a doctor if the skin around your ribs or neck sinks in when you inhale, if you experience difficulty in swallowing, rapid breathing, fatigue or agitation.
As a form of recap, we earlier mentioned that croup and cough are both illnesses that affect respiration and are more common in young children than in adults.
Although croup does not have any known vaccine, it is usually not severe and can be treated at home with little or no medication. Fortunately, vaccines against cough are available for both children and adult.