You know you are a parent when you can hear a cough from across the house, in the middle of the night, from the middle of a sound sleep, and immediately know what you’re dealing with – croup.
My kids are recovering from croup right now, and although it was our first time dealing with it, there is no mistaking that distinctive ‘bark’ sound that comes with it. Our pediatrician confirmed our diagnosis and suggested steroids. However, I’m sure it came as no surprise to him when we passed on the steroids and opted to treat the symptoms naturally at home. ***Please note that sometimes steroids ARE necessary with croup. It’s not something to mess around with if your child is not getting enough oxygen. Pray and use your own judgement. We watched our children really closely and were ready to take them in, if need be, but thankfully the following options were really effective in treating the symptoms at home. Also note I am not a doctor and none of this as meant to be medical advice. 🙂
What is Croup?
According to Medical News Today, croup is “a common respiratory condition characterized by inflammation of the upper airways that often occurs in infants and children. The result is a swelling and narrowing of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (wind pipe) that results in a harsh, barking cough.” Our pediatrician told us that what seems like a simple cold to an adult can easily become croup in a young child since their airways are so much smaller.
Natural Treatments for Croup
There are many facets of alternative healthcare that can help promote healing: essential oils, herbs, homeopathics, etc. We used a combination of these and found them to be really effective in managing the symptoms and helping our boys recover. Here are some of the things we did:
- Let the fever do it’s job – It’s so tempting when our kids have a fever to break out the fever reducers. However, fevers are a good thing. They are our bodies natural defense and they serve a purpose in the healing process. Now obviously there is a time and place for managing fevers (if they are dangerously high). When our boys were feverish, instead of fever reducers, we kept them comfortable with lots of fluids, epsom salt baths, and cool wash cloths. (For more information about why we usually choose to not reduce fevers, check here, here, or here.)
- Steam/cool air – One of the most common and effective treatments for croup is warm steam and then cool air. You can take your child in the bathroom, shut the door and turn the shower on as hot as it goes. Sit in there with your child and just let them breathe in the warm steam. Then bundle them up and take them outside to breathe cold air. If it’s not cold outside you can open the freezer and let them breathe in that air. Putting a cool mist humidifier in their room at night is also useful for keeping the air moist.
- Stay upright – Laying flat can sometimes cause the coughing to increase or the congestion to accumulate. Prop up their bed or crib on one side so they sleep at a small incline. I spent a lot of time holding my young son in an upright position while he slept.
- Essential oils- There are a several essential oils that are helpful for supporting the respiratory system. I diffused a respiratory blend of oils in their bedroom every night and rubbed this foot rub on their feet. The foot rub uses rosemary oil and tea tree oil. It definitely helped support their little bodies. By day two or three my three-year old was asking me for oils on his feet. 2/5/14 UPDATE: Since writing this post I have since learned that rosemary is not always safe to use on little kids. Instead fir, spruce, or pine would be better alternative oils to use. The same goes for the respiratory blend I mentioned, instead diffuse tea tree oil, fir, spruce or pine oils.
- Herbal salve – I also rubbed this herbal salve on their chest whenever they started coughing. Usually only 5 or 10 minutes after applying it, they were breathing easier. The oregano herb in it is great for soothing coughing fits.
- Homeopathy – This is something I’m just starting to learn about. When a friend from church found out our boys had croup, she very generously let us use some of her homeopathic remedies. There are three remedies, in particular, that are useful for the different stages of croup. Aconitum, Spongia Tosta, and Hepar Sulph (affiliate links). You can read more about them here, here, or here. There are some sources who say that you shouldn’t use essential oils and homeopathy together because some oils can cancel out the effects of the homeopathic remedy. Other sources say that it’s OK though. I spread them out so they were given thirty minutes to an hour apart and it seemed to work just fine.
- Honey – When the coughing fits get really bad, often a small spoonful of honey can stop it. Some people also like to add honey to warm herbal tea for their kids. It’s recommended not to give honey to babies under one year old, but this is a good option for older kids.
Have you dealt with croup in your household? What is your go-to remedy?
(Please remember I am a mom not a doctor. The information and/or comments on this blog are not to be used as diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern, please consult your doctor.)