Croup is a respiratory condition commonly seen in younger children. It is also known as laryngotracheobronchitis. Around 3% of children between six months to three years suffer from croup each year. Croup occurs due to viral infection affecting your child’s upper airway tract. 75% of cases of croup are due to parainfluenza virus. This influenza virus infection causes inflammation and swelling of your child’s voice box, known as the larynx, the windpipe trachea, and the air-carrying tubes, called bronchial tubes.

The airway obstruction due to swelling and inflammation leads to a barking cough, hoarseness of voice, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms of croup can be of mild to moderate intensity. However, in severe cases of croup with intense breathlessness, there can be bluish or grayish skin discoloration around the nose, mouth, or fingernails due to cyanosis.  

Although children below five years of age are commonly affected by croup, it can occur in children above five years. Croup treatment is decided by assessing the severity of the condition and the child’s risk of health decline. Over-the-counter antipyretic medications are usually prescribed for fever. Croup-specific medicines like steroids and nebulization are prescribed for respiratory complaints.

Homeopathy helps manage croup by treating the symptoms. This holistic system of medicine works on natural principles of cure. The medicines used in homeopathy are highly diluted to stimulate the body’s healing mechanisms. This makes homeopathy the safest option for your child.

Role of homeopathy in croup

Homeopathy gives promising results in cases of croup. Most homeopathic medicines are derived from natural sources (plant, animal, and mineral kingdom), so they are safe for children. 

These medications boost the self-healing mechanism and immunity in your child. 

This will help your child fight the infectious agent and aid in natural recovery. When prescribed on a constitutional basis, homeopathic medicines reduce inflammation and swelling in the larynx, trachea, and bronchial tubes. 

Top five homeopathic remedies for croup

Sambucus nigra (Samb.)

Common name: Elderberry

Sambucus nigra is a homeopathic medicine for croup with a blocked nose and dryness of nasal cavities. This medicine is indicated in children with fluent coryza followed by a cough. The cough is often rough, deep, dry, hollow, and suffocative. 

Cough worsens during rest, from cold air, and at midnight. The breathing difficulty in croup is so intense that it compels the child to sit up. The child also has whistling respiration and breathes with an open mouth. Children crying with every cough is an indication of Sambucus nigra.

Hepar sulphuris calcareum 

Common name: Hahnemann’s calcium sulfide

Hepar sulph. is recommended for croup with loose, deep, violent, rattling cough with noisy breathing. This rattling cough is relieved by copious expectoration of tenacious mucus. Croup cough begins after midnight, 2 to 4 am or later in the morning. There is whistling and wheezing that interrupts sleeping at night.

Hepar. sulph is effective in croup with continuous hoarseness of voice. Sometimes, the child can lose voice.

Croup with yellow or whitish-dirty mucus discharge responds well to this remedy. This medicine gives good results in a cough that worsens by cold air, a slight draught of air, and from taking cold drinks. Feeling better by covering, warmth, and heat is indicative of Hepar sulph.

Aconitum napellus (Acon.)

Common name: Monkshood

Aconite is helpful in croup, where a cough awakens the child from sleep. Cough is often dry, short, whistling, and barking. The child feels suffocated due to the croup. This remedy is indicated for loud, croaking coughs that worsen when the child exhales. The child grasps his throat while coughing. Cough that worsens from exposure to cold air calls for this remedy. A husky voice due to an inflamed larynx is an indication of Aconite.

Spongia tosta (Spong.)

Common name: Roasted sponge

Spongia tosta is indicated for croup with dry, rough, and barking cough. The cough is short and irritating. The child coughs day and night, but it worsens more at night. The child wakes up at midnight with a violent, harsh cough and increased respiration rate. 

Cold preceded by cough is the keynote symptom of Spongia tosta. Noisy breathing and sharp whistling in the chest are other symptoms indicating this remedy. The child complains of burning or roughness in the larynx. Hoarseness of voice is present along with other croup symptoms. 

Drosera rotundifolia (Dros.)

Common name: Sundew

Drosera is well-indicated for croup with deep, hoarse, and barking coughs. Cough is often dry, spasmodic, and irritating. The paroxysmal cough follows each other rapidly, and the child may feel choked.

There is hoarseness of voice due to laryngitis. Deep, cracked voice and exertion on speaking are other symptoms. A rough, scraping, titillating, itchy sensation or dryness in the larynx is also felt. Cough beginning at night soon after the head touches the pillow is the characteristic of this remedy. This cough worsens after midnight and from talking. 

Causes for croup

Viral infections are responsible for croup in children. These viruses infect the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea), which leads to the characteristic symptoms of croup. The most common virus causing croup is the parainfluenza virus. Other viruses causing croup include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza virus, adenovirus, rhinovirus, and enteroviruses.

Croup is more prevalent in the fall and early winter. It is more common in boys than girls. Infants and children aged six months to five years are vulnerable to croup.

Croup is an air-borne infection, which means it is contagious and spreads through direct contact with infected children or their fluids. The croup infection begins in the nose and throat before infecting the children’s lungs. The risk of contagion is high in the initial days and remains till the fever subsides.

Symptoms of croup

Barking cough

The viral infection causes swelling around the larynx and extends into the trachea, contributing to the characteristic barking cough. It sounds like a dog barking. The barking cough worsens when your child cries and gets anxious or agitated. 

Cold 

Croup often begins with a cold, runny nose, and sore throat. This gradually progresses to affect the upper airway.

Fever

Fever is commonly associated with croup due to upper respiratory tract inflammation. Monitoring and managing fever in croup is essential to assess the severity of the infection in children.

Noisy breathing 

Children have a high–pitched sound while breathing, known as noisy breathing, in croup. This results from restricted airflow caused by inflammation and swelling in the airways.

Breathlessness

Along with noisy breathing, a child can have breathing difficulty both while inhaling and exhaling.

Hoarseness of voice

A hoarse voice, like a rough or raspy voice, often arises from irritation and inflammation of the vocal cords. 

Night aggravation

Croup symptoms worsen at night due to increased airway inflammation and temperature changes. The characteristic barking cough and stridor become more prominent. This makes nighttime a critical period for monitoring and managing croup.

Skin discoloration

Bluish or grayish skin around the nose, mouth, or fingernails points towards cyanosis. This sign indicates a severe respiratory or circulatory issue that needs medical attention and intervention.

Treatment for croup

Mild croup

Humidifiers

Cool mist humidifiers are used to soothe dry and irritated airways in children.

Paracetamol

Fever is treated with over-the-counter medications like antipyretics.

Moderate to severe croup

Humidifier

Humidification helps soothe inflamed and irritated airways.

Oxygen

Oxygen helps to prevent breathlessness in respiratory infections like croup.

IV fluids

Dehydration is treated with IV fluids. 

Medication

Glucocorticoids are recommended to reduce the swelling in the larynx.

Nebulization 

Nebulization is advised to decrease swelling and inflammation in the airways.

Diet and lifestyle modifications for croup  

Humidification

Humidification can be helpful in alleviating respiratory symptoms in croup. You can 

use a cool mist humidifier. If you don’t have a humidifier, make your child sit in a steam-filled bathroom. It helps your child breathe easily.

Fluid intake

Ensure your child stays well hydrated. Drinking frequent sips of water or other fluids promotes easy, thin mucus secretions.

Rest and comfort

Resting in a calm and soothing environment can aid in your child’s fast recovery. Elevate the head and upper body using pillows, as they can ease breathing.

Warm liquids

Give your child warm water, herbal teas, soup, or broths. It helps soothe the throat and provides comfort.

Avoid irritants

Keep your child away from strong odors, smoke, and other respiratory irritants that can worsen croup symptoms.

Conclusion

Respiratory infections like croup are common in children below five years. Although most cases are not severe, some cases can become life-threatening. 

A well-selected homeopathic medicine, along with conventional medicines, supports immune mechanisms in children. Consult a homeopath to manage symptoms of  croup.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK431070/