Almost 30 kids a day are turning up at Queensland emergency departments with croup and health authorities warn the number of cases will rise as temperatures drop and more viruses do the rounds.
In February this year alone, there were more than 980 ED presentations for the condition across the state. There were 10,386 presentations in total in 2018.
“Croup affects mostly babies and toddlers,” said Dr Graham Jay, the Clinical Lead of the Children’s Emergency Department at Gold Coast University Hospital.
“It’s a viral infection of the throat that causes the voice box and windpipe to swell.
“We find it is more prevalent in the colder months, especially winter. Most cases of croup are mild and can be resolved at home with rest and paracetamol.”
However, Dr Jay said croup could be serious and required urgent medical attention.
“The symptoms can be quite severe and come on quite quickly, usually at night when the air is cooler and drier,” Dr Jay said.
“It can be very scary a child suddenly awakes with a harsh, bark-like cough and noisy, high-pitched breathing, which is known as stridor.
“Children with severe croup may not be able to suck enough air in. They may even start turning blue or appear extremely drowsy.
“These children require urgent treatment in hospital. Parents shouldn’t hesitate to call triple-zero.”
Dr Jay said croup treatments included oral steroid medication or, in very serious cases, adrenaline administered via a nebuliser to open up the airways.
The condition usually cleared up in two to five days but the cough can persist for several weeks.