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Also called: Spasmodic croup, Viral croup


Croup is an inflammation of the vocal cords (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). It causes difficulty breathing, a barking cough, and a hoarse voice. The cause is usually a virus, often parainfluenza virus. Other causes include allergies and reflux.

Croup often starts out like a cold. But then the vocal cords and windpipe become swollen, causing the hoarseness and the cough. There may also be a fever and high-pitched noisy sounds when breathing. The symptoms are usually worse at night, and last for about three to five days. Children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years have the highest risk of getting croup. They may also have more severe symptoms. Croup is more common in the fall and winter.

Most cases of viral croup are mild and can be treated at home. Rarely, croup can become serious and interfere with your child's breathing. If you are worried about your child's breathing, call your health care provider right away.

Learn More

  • (National Jewish Health) - PDF
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
  • Croup (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • (Nemours Foundation)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Laryngitis (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)
  • Parainfluenza (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

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