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Croup

Laryngotracheobronchitis Acute

Croup is a common viral respiratory tract illness characterized by inspiratory stridor, cough and hoarseness. In the past, the term croup described laryngeal diphtheria.


Presentation

Viral croup usually has a gradual onset and course. The symptoms often get worse at night. Initially, the child gets a cold with cough, coryza and low-grade fever. In about 12 to 24 hours, the cough becomes croupy (i.e. barky) with inspiratory stridor, causing varying degrees of respiratory distress with retractions and even cyanosis.

The duration of symptoms is usually 3-7 days. Examination reveals hoarse voice, coryza, a normal or minimally inflamed larynx and an increased respiratory rate with prolonged inspiratory phase and stridor.

Fever
  • HCoV-NL63 is prevalent in winter and is associated with younger age and with shorter fever duration.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Spasmodic croup is most common between ages 1 and 3—usually in children with no history of viral infection or fever. It causes a pale, watery edema.[web.archive.org]
  • Talk to your doctor or go to the hospital if your child: Has a fever for more than 72 hours or has a fever and is younger than 6 months.. Has rapid or difficult breathing, or bluish coloured lips.[caringforkids.cps.ca]
  • It lasts a couple of days, she says, so she recommends rest, fluids and acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the fever.[wkow.com]
  • The children had severe upper airways obstruction, appeared toxic with high fever, and were older than the typical age group for viral laryngotracheobronchitis.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Pallor
  • Grade 3 : respiratory distress, irritability, pallor or cyanosis, tachycardia, and exhaustion. Grade 3 croup is an emergency that necessitates immediate treatment. Your ability to promptly recognize croup and stridor can save a child’s life.[web.archive.org]
  • View/Print Table TABLE 5 Indications for Hospitalization of Patients with Croup Actual or suspected epiglottitis Progressive stridor Cyanosis Respiratory distress Depressed sensorium Restlessness Hypoxemia Stridor at rest Pallor Toxic-appearing child[aafp.org]
Cough
  • OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the results of our multidisciplinary approach to recurrent croup and chronic cough.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • However, differentiation in early illness is possible by additional observation of coughing and absence of drooling in croup and by the additional observation of drooling with absence of coughing in epiglottitis. 2010 The Authors.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Initially, the child gets a cold with cough, coryza and low-grade fever. In about 12 to 24 hours, the cough becomes croupy (i.e. barky) with inspiratory stridor, causing varying degrees of respiratory distress with retractions and even cyanosis.[symptoma.com]
  • Avoid cough medicines unless you discuss them with your provider first.[nlm.nih.gov]
  • Croup symptoms usually start like an upper respiratory tract infection, with low-grade fever and coryza followed by a barking cough and various degrees of respiratory distress.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Hoarseness
  • METHODS: Children were classified as having recurrent croup if they had had 2 or more episodes of barky cough, inspiratory stridor, and hoarseness.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • In febrile children, the presence of hoarseness, barking cough or acute inspiratory stridor is usually indicative of croup. Older children usually recover fully without any complications.[symptoma.com]
  • Croup manifests as hoarseness, a seal-like barking cough, inspiratory stridor, and a variable degree of respiratory distress.[emedicine.com]
Inspiratory Stridor
  • METHODS: Children were classified as having recurrent croup if they had had 2 or more episodes of barky cough, inspiratory stridor, and hoarseness.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Croup Also called laryngotracheobronchitis, croup is the leading cause of acute inspiratory stridor in children. Besides stridor, croup is characterized by a brassy or “barking” cough and hoarseness.[web.archive.org]
  • Croup manifests as hoarseness, a seal-like barking cough, inspiratory stridor, and a variable degree of respiratory distress.[emedicine.com]
Common Cold
  • Many cases come from parainfluenza viruses (the common cold).[healthline.com]
  • Other croup symptoms are not dissimilar to those of the common cold and upper respiratory infections, so parents should observe their child carefully.[rd.com]
  • Anderson says croup is contagious and spreads like the common cold. "One person may get more symptoms and the next one may just have more cold-like symptoms," said Dr. Anderson. Viruses are what lead to most cases of croup.[kplctv.com]
Dyspnea
  • A nine-month-old girl was admitted to our hospital because of abrupt onset dyspnea and unconsciousness. From clinical and laboratory findings, she was diagnosed as having bacterial croup.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • We report a case of 3-year-2-month-old girl who exhibited the following symptoms: progressive hoarseness, backing cough, and dyspnea. Initial clinical symptoms were mimicking croup.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • ‘In children, fever associated with dyspnea usually implies an infectious cause, such as pneumonia, croup, or bronchiolitis.’ ‘Bronchiolitis was the most common diagnosis, followed by pneumonia and croup.’[en.oxforddictionaries.com]
  • Croup usually is self-limiting; dyspnea and stridor typically arise as the patient starts to recover from the illness. Respiratory distress from croup varies from mild to moderate; it rarely progresses to upper airway obstruction.[web.archive.org]
  • Indication for hospitalization Cyanosis Not improving or getting worse Decreased alertness Family anxious about the child's condition No guarantee of follow-up References Ramboud-Cousson, Annie Bacterial Tracheitis among Children Hospitalized for Severe Dyspnea[pedclerk.bsd.uchicago.edu]
Tachycardia
  • Nebulised epinephrine may result in dose-related adverse effects including tachycardia, arrhythmias and hypertension and its benefit may be short-lived.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Tachycardia and other adverse effects may occur. This drug is recommended mainly for patients with moderate to severe croup.[merckmanuals.com]
  • Moderate to severe croup may require treatment with corticosteroids (from which benefits are often delayed) and nebulised epinephrine (adrenaline) (which may be short-lived and can cause dose-related adverse effects including tachycardia, arrhythmias,[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Grade 3 : respiratory distress, irritability, pallor or cyanosis, tachycardia, and exhaustion. Grade 3 croup is an emergency that necessitates immediate treatment. Your ability to promptly recognize croup and stridor can save a child’s life.[web.archive.org]
  • Indeed, nebulised adrenaline can have the opposite effect; putting something on the child’s face, wrestling with them and giving the child a tachycardia (distress, not adrenaline).[dontforgetthebubbles.com]

Workup

Diagnosis is usually made on the basis of complete history and clinical examination. Usually, baseline investigations such as complete blood count are of no great significance as the results are non-specific.

Procedures: Laryngoscopy may be required in when any uderlying anatomic or congenital anomaly is suspected. Bronchoscopy is indicated in cases of recurrent croup when other respiratory disorders have to be ruled out [5].

Radiography: Plain X-ray films can help confirm the diagnosis of croup. The posterolateral and lateral neck films show funnel-shaped subglottic region with normal epiglottis. This is known as Steeple's sign and is present in 40 to 60% of the cases [6]. It is also known as hour-glass or pencil point sign.

Mediastinal Shift
  • ., stridor; cough, fever and difficulty in breathing or fast breathing; wheezing; mediastinal shift with severe respiratory distress; slow or irregular breathing in absence of any pulmonary sign; and respiratory distress with cardiac findings.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

Treatment

The treatment depends upon the severity of symptoms and degree of the respiratory distress. For mild disease, reassurance in addition to maintenance of oxygenation and fluid homeostasis is sufficient.

Children that present with significant respiratory distress and stridor may require 100% oxygen supplementation and ventilator support.

  • Mist therapy: It is given by hot steam from a vaporizer or cold steam from a nebulizer [7].
  • Oxygen (cold and humidified) must be provided. Pulse oxymetry and arterial blood gas analysis are important in assessing the adequacy of air exchange.
  • Nebulizer recemic epinephrine (2.5% solution) if available may improve air exchange [8].
  • Dexamethasone (0.3-0.5 mg/kg administered once and repeated in 2 hours) shortens the course of illness but should be used with caution to prevent the occurrence of side effects [9] [10].

Prognosis

The prognosis of croup is excellent. Almost all of the cases of croup recover completely without any sequel of complications. Most of the patients can even get treated in the outpatient settings, whereas few of the cases might require hospitalization. Although the overall mortality rate in not exactly known, however a 10-year study shows the mortality rate to be less than 0.5% in intubated patients [4].

Etiology

About 80% of the total cases of croup are caused by Parainfluenza viruses (type 1, 2 and 3), out of which about 66% of the cases are caused by types 1 and 2. Parainfluenza type 3 virus mostly causes bronchiolitis and pneumonia in young infants. Not much is known about parainfluenza type 4 virus. It may be the cause of minor childhood illness.

The remaining 20% of the cases of croup are caused by adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), enterovirus, coronavirus, rhinovirus, reovirus, influenza virus A and B and metapneumovirus [1] [2]. Other rare causes of croup are measles virus, herpes simplex virus and varicella virus.

These viruses can spread through inhalation of infectious agents in the cough or sneeze of an infected person. They can also spread by contamination of hands with fomites or through touching of mucosa of eyes, mouth and/or nose.

Epidemiology

Croup is primarily a disease of infants and younger children and is the most common cause of acute stridor in this age group. It is slightly more common in the male gender, the male-to-female ratio being 1.5:1.

It is common in children aged 7 months to 3 years. After 6 years of age, the occurrence of croup is very rare [3].

In North America, the peak incidence is in the second year of life affecting 5-6 cases per 100 children.

Sex distribution
Age distribution

Pathophysiology

The common ports of entry of the virus are nose and nasopharynx. From there, the virus then spreads to the larynx and trachea resulting in inflammation and edema in these areas. The inflammatory infiltrate contains lymphocytes, histiocytes, plasma cells and neutrophils. An increased chloride secretion and decreased sodium absorption results in edema, thus narrowing the lumen of the air passages by accumulation of fibrinous exudates.

Endothelial damage and loss of ciliary function occurs which decreases the mobility of vocal cords thus resulting in hoarseness.

Prevention

As croup is a contagious disease, contact with the affected individuals must be made as minimally as possible.

  • Proper hand washing technique must be taught to the children and have them wash their hands more often to avoid the spread from one child to another.
  • Children should increase their fluid intake.
  • Exposure to respiratory irritants (such as smoke) should be avoided.
  • Treatment should be promptly obtained when the respiratory symptoms appear.
  • Hygienic conditions must be ensured.
  • Covering the mouth while coughing or sneezing helps prevent the spread to other children.

Summary

Croup or laryngotracheobronchitis is a common respiratory tract viral illness affecting the pedriatic population. It generally affects the larynx and trachea; and sometimes even the bronchi.

In febrile children, the presence of hoarseness, barking cough or acute inspiratory stridor is usually indicative of croup. Older children usually recover fully without any complications. In infants however, this might be a life-threatening condition.

Patient Information

Croup refers to infection of the airways that causes them to swell up. It is caused by a virus and usually affects male children under the age of 4 years. Symptoms are more common in winter months. The child develops flu-like symptoms with cough that sounds like a bark. Croup is usually not fatal and almost all children recover from it.

References

Article

  1. Sung JY, Lee HJ, Eun BW, et al. Role of human coronavirus NL63 in hospitalized children with croup. The Pediatric infectious disease journal. Sep 2010;29(9):822-826.
  2. Williams JV, Harris PA, Tollefson SJ, et al. Human metapneumovirus and lower respiratory tract disease in otherwise healthy infants and children. The New England journal of medicine. Jan 29 2004;350(5):443-450.
  3. Sobol SE, Zapata S. Epiglottitis and croup. Otolaryngologic clinics of North America. Jun 2008;41(3):551-566, ix.
  4. Segal AO, Crighton EJ, Moineddin R, Mamdani M, Upshur RE. Croup hospitalizations in Ontario: a 14-year time-series analysis. Pediatrics. Jul 2005;116(1):51-55.
  5. Chun R, Preciado DA, Zalzal GH, Shah RK. Utility of bronchoscopy for recurrent croup. The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology. Jul 2009;118(7):495-499.
  6. Huang CC, Shih SL. Images in clinical medicine. Steeple sign of croup. The New England journal of medicine. Jul 5 2012;367(1):66.
  7. Moore M, Little P. Humidified air inhalation for treating croup: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Family practice. Sep 2007;24(4):295-301.
  8. Bjornson C, Russell KF, Vandermeer B, Durec T, Klassen TP, Johnson DW. Nebulized epinephrine for croup in children. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2011(2):CD006619.
  9. Bjornson CL, Klassen TP, Williamson J, et al. A randomized trial of a single dose of oral dexamethasone for mild croup. The New England journal of medicine. Sep 23 2004;351(13):1306-1313.
  10. Cetinkaya F, Tufekci BS, Kutluk G. A comparison of nebulized budesonide, and intramuscular, and oral dexamethasone for treatment of croup. International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology. Apr 2004;68(4):453-456.

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Last updated: 2019-07-11 22:55