Last week, my toddler went to bed with no symptoms of illness and woke up in the middle of the night with a barking cough and tightness in his chest that kept both of us awake for hours.... CROUP.
Croup isn't actually a disease, it is a term used to describe a cough caused by inflammation of the larynx, trachea and bronchial tubes. It is an inflammatory reaction to any number of common viral infections, including the common cold. Croup is a common occurrence in children between the ages of six months and six years old. Unlike other viral respiratory illnesses, which can cause a dry, wet, or a deep cough, croup causes a dry cough that sounds like a barking seal. Croup symptoms come on suddenly, often in the middle of the night, but don't worry! In most cases, croup symptoms are resolved within two to three days.
So, how does a concerned parent cope with the inconvenient and often scary symptoms of croup? There are actually a number of remedies that I've used over the years, read on to learn more!
The first thing I do when a baby wakes up coughing is to go in the bathroom, close the door, plug the tub, and turn the shower on as hot as it will go until the room is filled with steam. Yes, a humidifier can also help, but with croup you rarely have enough advance notice to fill a room with humid air using a humidifier.
Bundle up yourself and your baby and step outside for a few minutes. Especially right after a hot steamy room, cold air can almost instantly soothe a little inflamed upper respiratory tract.
Homeopathics: Spongia & Drosera
I always keep these two homeopathics on hand. They work like magic on any type of cough, but especially the dry, barking cough of croup. You can give your child a dose of both homeopathics every ten minutes.
That bottle of thyme sitting in your spice cabinet is a powerful cough suppressant! Steep 2 tsp of dried thyme in one cup of water for five minutes, strain, add a bit of honey if your child is over 1 year for flavor and as an additional cough suppressant.
Lobelia is a powerful anti-spasmodic herb that can be a great tool for asthma, stomach pain, muscle cramps and coughs. Too much lobelia can induce vomiting, so for babies we usually recommend no more than ten drops every few hours-- I add it to the cough suppressant tea. You can also use lobelia externally as a chest rub to reduce inflammation. Simply rub on the chest and apply a warm washcloth over top.
My favorite essential oil blend during cold & flu season is our Respiratory Combat. I dilute it with a few drops of carrier oil and rub on my sick kids' chest, back, and feet. I also diffuse Respicare to open bronchial passages and reduce inflammation, as well as kill airborne bacteria.
Our Flu Buster formula is a specialized herbal formula that is suspended in a base of elderberry syrup, which is known to boost immunity, especially against upper respiratory viruses. This formula was created to kill viruses and bacteria, as well as reduce inflammation.
Wet Sock Treatment
We love this treatment for reducing upper respiratory inflammation. You can read more about how to do a wet sock treatment HERE.
Another remedy that works well to reduce upper respiratory inflammation, onion poultice is helpful when the cough produces mucous or the child has a runny nose in addition to the cough. You can read more about how to do an onion poultice HERE.
So there you have it: the remedies that have worked for us over the years and prevented us from middle of the night visits to the ER for breathing treatments. Like us on Facebook for more tips and tricks for keeping your family healthy!