The 2 Types of Croup That Can Affect Your Child

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  • Viral croup is mainly triggered by the parainfluenza I virus, although other viruses such as parainfluenza II to IV, influenza A and B, measles virus, enterovirus, rhinovirus or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can also cause it
  • Spasmodic croup is most likely caused by allergies, weather changes or a mild upper respiratory infection. While both diseases have common symptoms, parents or guardians should be aware of the differences between these two conditions

There are two types of croup that children are susceptible to: viral croup and spasmodic croup. While both diseases have common symptoms, parents or guardians should be aware of the differences between these two conditions.

What Is Viral Croup?

As the name implies, this disease is caused by viruses, the most common cause of croup.1 Viral croup is mainly triggered by the parainfluenza I virus, although other viruses, such as parainfluenza II to IV, influenza A and B, measles virus, enterovirus, rhinovirus or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), can cause this disease too.2 Viral croup typically worsens at night, but can be excruciating during the day as well.3

A viral infection in a patient’s voice box and windpipe are the first signs of viral croup.4 This condition starts in a similar way to that of a cold, until the patient begins to develop a barking cough.5 The patient's condition worsens during the second and third night, but gradually improves by the fourth night.6

Children who have viral croup develop hoarse voices, noisier breathing and stridor  (a coarse musical sound that's heard when the child breathes in). Having stridor means that the child’s upper airways are swollen, causing him or her to have increased breathing difficulties. Stridor worsens when the child is active or crying, and children who make this sound even while at rest may have a more serious condition.

Patients with viral croup often become frightened (since they may find it difficult to breathe properly), and have a fever that’s either low-grade or could reach to a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, cold symptoms like runny nose, congestion and non-barky-sounding cough may continue for another five to seven days.

What Is Spasmodic Croup?

Spasmodic croup is most likely caused by allergies, weather changes or a mild upper respiratory infection.7 It typically targets children between 3 months and 3 years old.8 Just like with viral croup, children with spasmodic croup have a barking cough and possible stridor, although they do not have a fever.9

Compared to viral croup, spasmodic croup tends to be more devastating. For starters, the disease can manifest without warning, and episodes can suddenly occur in the middle of the night. Children with spasmodic croup may go to bed with a mild cold, but wake up a few hours later gasping for breath.10 Some children even look fairly healthy before coughing begins.11

Fortunately, spasmodic croup symptoms can improve in a few hours. However, there is a big tendency for symptoms to reappear for several nights in a row,12 and recur during late childhood or adolescence. Nevertheless, the disease is said to often respond to natural home treatments used for viral croup.13

MORE ABOUT CROUP

Croup: Introduction

What Is Croup?

Is Croup Contagious?

Croup in Adults

Croup Symptoms

Croup Causes

Types of Croup

Croup Treatment

Essential Oils for Croup

Croup Prevention

Croup FAQ


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