1. History and physical examination
The pediatrician or general physician looks for the normal physical conditions for identifying croup. The child’s harsh barking cough may be a tell tale sign. During the physical examination, the doctor also listens to your child’s chest with his stereoscope to check chest retractions while breathing. The breathing is often noisy marked with a wheezing sound and reduced breath sounds. The doctor also checks on the economic living conditions of the patient and the family history of coup. Cleanliness and hygienic food habits reduce possibility of contracting a croup. The doctor also enquires about the starting date of the health disorder or whether it came accompanied by fever at any stage. Patients with a history of stridor is often more likely to be affected by the croup than others.
2. Allergy test
Allergies also at times can trigger spasmodic croup. Pathologists advise for allergy tests in case of recurrent crop. The symptoms are same as that of standard viral croup, except there is no fever and recuperation is faster. However, it might also point out reasons for frequent blockages in airways and heavy mucus formation affecting breathing and talking. For example, an allergy from pollens, dust, grass or mold can also sometimes snowball into a coup occurrence.
Additionally the doctor may take a throat culture to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial. The laryngoscopy is the common mucus test conducted in such situations. Here a thin tube is inserted into the mouth to look at the throat tissue. During which a culture of mucus from the windpipe may be collected and tested for infection. The test also helps to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial. Moreover, it can help conclude the reasons behind the croup attack which also might be due to softening of cartilage in the larynx.
4. ENT examination
An ENT specialist is often recommended to confirm severity of the situation. Here the specialist looks for a thorough ear, throat and ear examination. The signs specially looked here are a bluish color of the nails and lips, or around the mouth, restlessness due to lack of oxygen, high-pitched breath sounds even at rest, trouble swallowing, drooling, etc.
5. Pulse oximeter test
A pulse oximeter is a device that checks the level of oxygen in the blood. Here a small clip is put on a finger, toe, or earlobe of the patient. The light beam in the clip computes the oxygen of the red blood cells that move through the cells in the finger, toe, or earlobe. The person’s oxygen level is examined from the display and an alarm is signaled in case of low oxygen levels. In case of coup, such a signal may mean a necessity to hospitalize the patient or call for the emergency. However, it is a painless sensor and does not produce any heat on skin when conducted.
6. Blood test
Blood tests are also conducted to check for the signs of infection and the level of white blood corpuscles. However, they are not essential. Moreover, as anxiety is noticed to be an important aggravating feature in croup, the procedure could lead to more distress and can be avoided.
7. Lateral neck and chest X-ray
A lateral neck x-ray is an invisible electromagnetic energy beam, which projects internal images of the bones, tissues and organs of the neck and chest. It is used to look for changes associated with croup and directing for better treatment procedures in any complex situation. The image may reveal presence of a foreign object or significant thinning of the trachea that is also known as the steeple sign. It is not a routine test but helps in differentiating croup from epiglottitis.
8. Viral culture
The para-influenza virus type 1 and 2 most commonly causes croup in more than 75 % of the cases; but other sub-types such as adenovirus, RSV, and influenza are sometimes found responsible. A clinical study of the viral culture taken from nasopharyngeal aspiration help diagnose croup.
9. Other obstructive conditions
Often problems with the airway, breathing, or circulation may develop due to other reasons too like foreign body inhalation, epiglottitis, anaphylaxis, subglottic-stenosis, angioedema, retropharyngeal abscess and bacterial tracheitis.The treatment for each of these diseases are widely different in clinical as well as viral formation.