1. Retracted breathing
Watching your child’s chest bones while breathing will help you confirm the diagnosis of croup. Most children who develop croup breathe by flaring their nostrils and they breathe very hard due to the condition that the rib muscles retract inwards creating a gaunt look as the ribs are sucked inwards.
When children get croup, it will also be followed by fever in most cases due to the infection. But, fever would not be very high and it rarely goes beyond 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If there is fever, make sure that you do cold compress to bring down the severity and make the child feel better.
3. Hoarse voice
Croup generally affects the vocal cord and this is why your child would experience sudden changes in his/her voice. Voice would be strained and very hoarse when affected by croup. There would be a raspy sound as well while the child breathes which is called a stridor. If these symptoms are detected, it is most definitely croup.
4. Worsening cough
While a normal cough could be severe at all times of the day, symptoms of croup can worsen at night. Coughing would be very severe at night along with breathing difficulty which will give the parent sleepless nights for a few days. Make your child as comfortable as possible by elevating his/her head on the pillow so that the breathing difficulty is alleviated. You can also help him/her gargle with salt water to ease the sore throat.
5. Sore throat
Due to the infection of the vocal chords and trachea, children will have severe pain and inflammation as the vocal cords would be raw, red and very swollen due to the infection. If your child refuses to eat or drink anything due to the pain and is very cranky, check his/her throat and assess the situation. If the throat is very red and swollen, do not force your child to eat as it is the pain that is causing him/her to protest. Try to give him/her warm liquids to minimize the discomfort.
6. Bluish lips
Severe cases of croup may show this symptom as the accelerated and difficult breathing patterns will lead to lack of inadequate oxygen supply to the body, leading to bluish tinged lips. If you suspect that your child’s lips are turning blue, get him/her checked into a hospital immediately for medical assistance.
7. Breathing patterns
When a child develops croup, he/she can have difficulty in breathing and this can be particularly severe in the night. The labored breathing can resemble wheezing. Breathing can also accelerate if the croup is very severe.
The cough that is associated with croup has a very distinct sound. It resembles a bark rather than a cough and would sound particularly harsh and severe as compared to a normal cough or cold. If a barking sound which is different from the normal coughing sound is identified, it has to be suspected that your child has croup.
9. Cold like symptoms
While in the initial stages of croup, your child may display symptoms that are associated with cold. This would be a blocked nose, aching head, coughing and general malaise. While a cold develops gradually in a matter of days, croup symptoms, even though similar to cold, crop up suddenly and can flare up in a day.