Croup is a common childhood ailment marked by a harsh barking cough that arises from a viral infection of the larynx. It is often associated with mild upper respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose and cough. Croup is usually not serious and most children recover within a few days, but may need medical attention if the child develops breathing difficulties.
Conventional Medical Treatment for Croup
NHS Choices says that the treatment of croup depends on how severe the symptoms are, and that most cases are mild and can be managed at home. It warns that if the child has severe croup an urgent hospital admission might be required.
The treatment at home recommended is:
- comforting the child (!)
- encouraging the child to drink plenty of fluids.
- taking ‘children's paracetamol’ to ease any pain associated with the condition, and to lower temperature if there is a fever. However, it should be noted that this advice comes with strong warnings about the use of painkilling drugs for children.
- a single dose of “an oral corticosteroid medication called dexamethasone or prednisolone to help reduce swelling in your child's throat”. It mentions that the side effects of these medications include restlessness, vomiting, upset stomach and headache.
NHS Choices also warns not to use cough medicines or decongestants “as these do not help ease the symptoms of croup”, and “often have drowsy side effects, which can be dangerous when a child has breathing difficulties”.
In severe cases of croup, where there are breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, NHS Choices says that hospital treatment may be required, and to ring for an ambulance immediately.
The Homeopathic Treatment of Croup
Note. Homeopathy does not treat illness or diseases. It treats an individual who has been diagnosed with a particular illness or disease. The distinction is important.
Homeopathy works by matching the symptoms of illness with the known symptoms of remedies. These short remedy descriptions may guide you to a remedy that can work for you, but consulting with a qualified homeopath will enhance the chances of a good match. When a close match is found the remedy will work successfully, without any side effects, or adverse reactions.
These remedy description are taken from Dana Ullman’s website, Homeopathic Educational Services. These descriptions apply to children with croup, and to most people with a cough. They will usually be capable of preventing croup requiring hospital admission.
These children wake from sleep with a dry, hoarse, croupy cough, which tends to be worse at night and after midnight. They are apt to develop a cold or cough during dry cold weather. Along with their dry cough, they will have a dry mouth and shortness of breath. They are usually very thirsty. The cough is worse from being cold, drinking cold water, from tobacco smoke, lying on either side, and at night, especially after midnight. This remedy is very commonly given for the initial stages of croup, bronchitis, pleurisy, and pneumonia. These children are often restless and anxious.
A loud rattling cough with an inability to expectorate mucus is characteristic of this medicine. Sometimes precipitated after being angered or annoyed, the respiratory difficulties cause these children to feel drowsy, weak, and feeble. Their symptoms are usually worse at 4 a.m. Their difficulty in breathing may cause them to sit up rather than lie down. Concurrent with these breathing difficulties are anxiousness, restlessness, and irritability. They feel chilly but are averse to stuffy warm rooms. They instead desire cool rooms and open windows. This remedy is rarely given at the beginning of an illness.
When cough symptoms appear suddenly and the child has a dry cough with laryngitis, consider this remedy. These children are restless, drowsy, and have wild dreams. Their symptoms are worse at night.
When a common cold starts with a nasal discharge and then moves down into the chest, Bryonia is often given, especially when the cough is dry and worse by motion or breathing in. It is painful to move and to inspire, so these children tend to hold their chest as they breathe in order to limit the motion of the chest. The cough is also aggravated by warm rooms and during or after eating. These children tend to be sensitive to drafts and are always catching cold. They may feel some tickling in the larynx which irritates the cough. Sometimes nausea and vomiting or a headache accompany the cough.
Bouts of continuous, dry, barking coughing are characteristic of children who need this remedy. They may experience a spasmodic tickling cough that is accompanied by choking, cold sweats, and vomiting. Their cough is aggravated by lying down and after midnight, especially at 2 a.m. The cough is irritated by talking, eating, or drinking cold fluids. These children are usually seen holding onto the chest for support during the coughing spells. They become very chilly and tend to perspire profusely, especially at night. They may also develop a deep hoarse voice.
Children who will benefit from this remedy do not get symptoms that arise suddenly, nor are the symptoms very intense. These children may, however, be anemic and become ill after being exposed to cold. The cough becomes worse from cold air, in early morning, and after eating. It is a dry hacking cough, and the expectoration may have some blood in it. The children may experience a stitching pain on inspiration and during a cough. They usually have a poor appetite with an aversion to meat and milk and a desire for sour foods. Hoarseness may accompany the cough.
This remedy is good for a barking, croupy cough, especially when it is exacerbated by exposure to cold. The cough may also be excited by dryness or dust in the larynx, eating or drinking cold things, deep inspiration, or a draft. There may be much coughing up of mucus or rattling of the chest without the ability to cough the mucus out. These children sweat during their coughing spells, and they may actually feel better in damp weather. They are very irritable while ill.
When children have a hacking cough with a tendency to retch or vomit, this remedy should be considered. These children have blood-strained mucus, constriction of the chest, and a tickling in the throat, causing a cough. They tend to cough with every breath and experience excessive salivation. The cough is worse in hot, humid weather or in changing weather. They may also have sneezing and hoarseness. This remedy is a common medicine for infants with a cough and vomiting.
Known to frequently cough up stringy, ropy, yellow mucus, these children are worse after eating, drinking, uncovering, cold weather, and at 3 a.m. They experience some relief from expectorating the stringy mucus, warmth, warm weather, and lying down in a warm bed. They have a sensation of a hair in the back of the throat that irritates the cough. They may have a hoarse voice and may feel pain from sticking out the tongue. In some instances they are known to have pain in the mid-sternum extending through to the back. This remedy is not useful at the beginning stages of a cough.
These children have a dry hard cough, sometimes with a persistent tickle felt behind the sternum. The cough is aggravated by lying down, especially on the left side, and they are wakened at night and need to sit up to cough. They are also aggravated by talking, moving, going from a warm room to cold air, or from strong odors. To decrease pain from coughing, they usually hold their chest. The tightness in their chest is relieved by the warmth of a bed. They crave ice drinks. Their illness exhausts them, and they sometimes have an empty, all-gone feeling or burning in the chest. Their nasal discharge may have some blood streaked in it, and they may become hoarse. This medicine is commonly given in more serious respiratory conditions like pneumonia.
This remedy is related to some characteristic cough symptoms, but it is more commonly prescribed based on a child's General Characteristics. The cough symptoms are aggravated in a warm room or warm weather, by lying down to sleep, and at night. Walking in the cool air provides some relief. Also, the child must sit up in bed to breathe better. Typically, she has a dry cough during the day, and a productive cough with yellow or greenish expectoration at night and upon waking. The key General Characteristics of Pulsatilla children are that they are affectionate, moody, weepy, indecisive, and always seek to please others. They crave affection and sympathy and cannot get enough of it. They have fears of being abandoned, so when parents get ready to go out for whatever reason, these children may beg them not to leave.
The most distinctive characteristic of children who need this remedy is that their cough is extremely sensitive to cold air. They may even place a blanket or towel over their head to avoid breathing cold air. They experience a tickling in the throat and an irritation below the larynx that is aggravated by touching or pressing the pit of the throat. They have a dry cough and usually become hoarse. They are aggravated in the night and by motion and feel better in warmth.
This remedy is one of the primary medicines for a dry, barking, croupy cough. The air passages are dry, the sputum is absent, and the voice is hoarse. The coughing can be exacerbated by cold air, warm rooms, tobacco smoke, talking, lying with the head low, drinking cold fluids, or eating sweets. The cough also tends to be worse in the early part of the night. Warm food or drinks, even in small doses, provide some relief, as does sitting up and leaning forward. This remedy is considered a second stage croup remedy, after Aconitum and before Hepar and Kali bic.
The information on this webpage represents the views and opinion of the author, based on his clinical experience, and the traditions of Homeopathy. This material is provided for information only, and should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Always consult with a suitably qualified and registered Homeopath, or with a medical doctor for advice about the treatment they offer, especially in serious or life threatening medical conditions, or if you are already taking medical drugs.’