Certain serious conditions can cause crouplike symptoms. These
Tracheomalacia. In this condition, the walls of the
windpipe (trachea) collapse with inhalation because of soft or weakened
cartilage. Tracheomalacia usually is present at birth (congenital), usually
improves by 6 to 12 months of age, and disappears by 18 to 24 months of age.
Symptoms of tracheomalacia include coarse, noisy breathing (stridor), prolonged
exhaling, and a cough that may sound like
Epiglottitis. The epiglottis is the tissue that
covers the opening of the windpipe (trachea). Inflammation of this tissue, or
epiglottitis, usually does not produce the classic
coughing symptoms of croup, but a child often experiences great difficulty
swallowing. Also, children with epiglottitis usually feel and may look worse
than they sound; children with croup usually sound worse than they feel.
Bacterial tracheitis. Bacterial tracheitis is a rare,
serious infection of the windpipe (trachea) that may have symptoms similar to
croup. Symptoms of bacterial tracheitis include a high fever, a sore throat, a
loose, harsh cough, and pain under the breastbone (sternum). A child with
bacterial tracheitis appears much sicker than a child with croup and needs
immediate medical attention.
A foreign object in the airway. If your child cannot
talk, cough, or breathe, he or she is choking and requires emergency medical
care. Call 911 or emergency services immediately. Use the
Heimlich maneuver for a child older than age 1 or
an infant if you know how, or emergency services can guide you on technique
until medical help arrives.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.