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Important things you need to know about croup.

Byline: From the GP's surgery Dr Alexandra Phelan

CROUP is a common condition that children can get at any time of the year but it is more common during the colder winter months. This is the time of year when younger people tend to pick up more of the viruses that can cause respiratory problems.

The distinctive bark-like cough that comes with croup can be quite alarming for parents so it's important to understand when more urgent medical attention might be needed.

Croup is usually caused by a viral infection of the upper airways, with swelling inside the throat that can interfere with normal breathing.

Children often have cold-like symptoms for a few days before croup develops, including a sore throat, runny nose, cough and high temperature.

Some children will develop a croaky voice and a symptom doctors refer to as stridor, which results in a grunting sound when a child breathes in. This is usually more noticeable when a child is distressed or crying. The symptoms of croup often get worse later in the day and overnight.

In most cases, croup will only last for a few days and can be treated at home.

GPs will often recommend using children's paracetamol to ease any discomfort and reduce any fever. They may also prescribe steroid medications that can help reduce any swelling in your child's throat.

Cough medicines should be used with caution. Always check that they are suitable for the age of your child. Some cough medicines can make children more drowsy which can be dangerous if there are concerns about breathing difficulties.

Croup can sometimes lead to serious medical problems and it's important to seek medical help if you are at all worried.

Always seek urgent attention if your child has a high temperature and dark, blue-tinged skin or severe breathing difficulties. This might be because their breathing sounds noisy or if your child looks to be 'working hard' to breathe.

It is good practice to get used to what is 'normal' breathing for your child by watching them when they are well. Children who are struggling with their breathing will often use their tummy muscles more or have more obvious indentations between their ribs when breathing in.

Croup's bark is usually worse than its bite and it will normally pass within a few days.

However, seek medical help if you are at all concerned.

| COLD SORES are often a sign that we might be rundown or stressed and people are often more susceptible in the winter months.

They are caused by a virus and will usually clear up without treatment within seven to 10 days.

Remedies that will help cold sores to clear up more quickly are available from pharmacies without a prescription and include products such as Fenistil and Zovirax.

They need to be applied when a cold sore is first appearing. They work by preventing the virus that causes them from spreading.

People with severe or recurrent cold sores or conditions that can lead to a lower immune system should speak to their GP, who maP y consider a prescribing antiviral tablets.

| Dr Phelan is a working GP and member of Pharmacy2U online doctor service.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 21, 2016
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