Medicines for Croup Cough

Any infant who has been reported with any kind of respiratory distress must first be thoroughly checked up to measure the extent of the constriction of the wind canal in the throat. This is important because the treatment is doled out depending on the degree of distress the patient is facing. As a simple example, a child with symptoms of simple croupy cough only needs parental reassurances and comfort whereas a child with severe symptoms of croup cough may need to be immediately oxygenated and put on ventilation to ease out their respiration. If however the distress continues, then the patient must be intubated using an endotracheal tube which must be 0.5 to 1 mm smaller than the usual tubes as the patient will be an infant most likely. Thus, parents need to be educated about the course of action which must be taken in a situation.

As far as medication is concerned, the most recent developments have been the use of glucocorticoids and nebulised epinephrine in the treatment of croup cough. Such corticosteroids are highly recommended because they induce anti-inflammatory measures in the throat, preventing the airway from constricting further and thus reduce the swelling. However care needs to be taken of the fact that such corticosteroids must not be administered to children suffering from varicella, or untreated tuberculosis as they might trigger unwanted and severe reactions.

Apart from corticosteroids, other steroid medicines prescribed include dexamethasone and prednisolone. Acting on the lines of the corticosteroids these kinds of steroids too reduce the inflammation or swelling of the airway. One single dose of these steroids often eases the patient's symptoms within a few hours. For patients under moderate or severe breathing distress, nebulised racemic epinephrine is administered. Patients who are given epinephrine should also be given corticosteroids. All steroid medicines in general do not reduce the length of illness but prevent the illness from turning severe and stabilise the patient.

Extreme care must be taken to ensure that a child is not given anything that would make him drowsy as that would induce an extra effort in breathing, adding to the already mounting difficulties. There is no scientific proof of cough syrups or decongestants helping coup coughing and thus it is best to leave these out during treatment. Additionally these may contain certain ingredients which may make the child drowsy and are hence completely avoided.

Antibiotics are not prescribed for treating croup coughs because antibiotics fail to kill viruses and this particular infection is usually caused by a viral infection. Hence antibiotic medicines are useless in case of croup cough.

Never give out any kind of medicine without proper prior prescription by a qualified doctor or nurse. In most of the croup cough cases the symptoms are only mild and the children get better soon, only a few need hospital care. If the breathing distress worsens, the child gets agitated or restless, he/she looks unusually pale or a high fever persists even after sufficient and appropriate medication, get the child to the nearest doctor quickly before the condition becomes severe. In case the child turns blue, feels unusually sleepy, is struggling to breathe or is drooling to unable to swallow, immediately call an emergency ambulance.