What Are Your Treatment Options For A Child's Croupy Cough?

As outside temperatures drop, communicable illnesses can spread much more easily — and for young children who haven't yet had the opportunity to build up an immunity to many common ailments, the winter months can seem like a constant revolving door of viruses and respiratory ailments. In some cases, this can end in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), pneumonia, or croup, leaving your child uncomfortable and you worried. What are your best treatment options if your child has developed croup that isn't responding well to a steam-filled bathroom or over-the-counter medications? Read on to learn more about the quickest and most effective treatment options for your child's croupy cough.


A nebulizer can be a handy tool to have if your child seems prone to respiratory problems or has airborne allergies or asthma, as it can allow you to turn just about any medication or scent into a humidified aerosol. During a nebulizer treatment, your child will sit with a mask over his or her nose and mouth. As your child inhales and exhales, the nebulizer will generate a steady mist of cool, humid air; included in this mist may be any prescription medications (like epinephrine) or essential oils that can assist in opening your child's airways or dampening the urge to cough. 

While a cool mist humidifier can be a good way to increase a room's relative humidity in the winter and ease congestion for ill children, a nebulizer presents a much more targeted treatment due to its attached mask. You may want to invest in a nebulizer even if you already have one or more humidifiers performing full-time duty, especially if your child has asthma or another chronic condition that may occasionally make breathing difficult. 


Another effective treatment for the barking coughs common among croup patients is a regimen of prescription corticosteroids. Steroids are highly effective at battling inflammation and shrinking swollen tissue, so they can be an ideal choice when it comes to reducing pressure and inflammation in a reddened airway and eliminating the urge to cough. Often, you'll notice your child's symptoms improve significantly after just a day or two of steroid treatment.

These steroids can have some serious side effects for young children, so they're generally considered an option only if there is considered some risk in continuing to cough unabated — from airway obstruction to tiny tears in the esophageal tissue from the strain of coughing. If your child's pediatrician prescribes corticosteroids for croup, it's important to take them exactly as directed to minimize the risk of unwanted side effects..