You’re already tired with regular life. Kids, work, trying to show up for your partner, and get healthy meals on the table. I get it, I’ve been there! It feels like you’re barely making it and boom, one of your kids comes down with croup. What’s a natural mama to do about croup?
Croup was my life this week. I’m trying to do all the things to keep my life afloat, and my 2.5-year-old wakes up at night coughing. But not just regular coughing, croup barking seal coughing.
Croup is a viral infection also known as laryngotracheobronchitis (yes that’s a mouthful!) Croup generally occurs in the fall/winter months. One hallmark of croup is a sudden onset of a barky cough, which some people describe akin to a seal barking. Croup is caused by many different viruses but most commonly by parainfluenza. Other symptoms of croup can include a hoarse voice, inspiratory stridor, respiratory distress, and fever. Croup can feel very scary because your child has coughing attacks and can have a difficult time breathing.
Croup typically lasts 48-72 hours and is much worse at night. Croup also tends to be worse on the second or third night (so hang in there!) then can be followed by congestion and typical symptoms of the common cold. Croup usually affects kids six months-3 years with peak occurrence around 24 months. *This article is written with kids 6months and older in mind. Infants have different health concerns and should be evaluated by a medical professional if they are showing any signs of croup.*
It’s essential to know the warning signs associated with croup and when to seek medical care. Firstly, if you think your child is having a hard time breathing, please stop reading this blog and seek higher medical care. Additionally, if you have access to a 24 hours nurse hotline, it may be helpful to give them a call to discuss your particular child’s case. Other warning signs of croup are:
· Stridor at rest. Here is a link to listen to what stridor sounds like
· The child is working hard to breathe, which can usually be seen when looking at the ribs. It looks like the spaces between the ribs are being pulled inward. You can also look for flaring of the nostrils to help determine the work of breathing.
· Rapid, shallow breathing
· Difficulty talking, feeding, or excessive drooling
· Blueish discoloration around the mouth/lips
· Is excessively sleepy or conversely overly agitated
· Shows signs of dehydration (decreased urine output)
A helpful tool for mom’s to assess croup is the Westley Croup Score calculator, which can be found here.
So, what’s a natural mama to do? Mild croup can typically be managed at home with simple home remedies. Here’s a list of tips that I found helpful for managing croup at home:
· Sleep near your child, which can help manage your own anxiety as well as allow you to respond quickly if your child starts coughing.
· Set up a humidifier in your child’s bedroom to help keep the air moist and humid. Croup is usually worse in dry environments.
· When your child has a coughing attack, bring them outside into the cold air OR into a steamy bathroom. Either cold air or steam can help stop the coughing.
· For children over 1-year-old, honey can be given to soothe the throat and decrease coughing. Some studies have shown honey to be as effective as cough suppressants. Please note that many cough suppressants are NOT recommended for children due to adverse side effects.
· Use a salve made of essential oils that can be applied to the child’s chest. These can be purchased at your local health food store or online. Alternatively, you can make your own! Essential oils are potent and should be used with caution around young children. Some of the best gentle essential oils for cough and congestion include pine, rosalina, eucalyptus (best for kids over 2), Frankincense, Myrtle, and rose. Perhaps I will write about how to make a simple chest salve in an upcoming blog post!
· Elderberry syrup. Elderberry is an herb with a long history of use for colds and flu. Elderberry is antiviral, and studies have shown elderberry to help shorten the duration of the flu! Elderberry syrup can be purchased at the local health foods store (or even easily made!) Elderberry is pretty tasty and usually combined with honey so it can be doubly useful! See the link for my favorite recipe to use for Elderberry Syrup: here
· Warm baths in a steamy bathroom during the day can help break up congestion.
· Using a NoseFrida or bulb syringe to help get the snot out. Yes, some kids hate this, but it does work!
· Try saline, or Xylitol sprays in the nostrils to help loosen mucus.
· Rest and warm fluids during the day to help children stay hydrated and keep the mucus as thin as possible.
· Elevate the head of your child’s bed/crib.
· I love making herbal popsicles to give my kids. Popsicles help keep them hydrated and deliver herbs in a way they will take them. Herbal popsicles are simple: make a tea with yummy tasting herbs such as lemon balm, chamomile, or peppermint. To make tea, I generally use one tablespoon of herb to 1 cup of water. For popsicles, I like to use juice to make them a little sweeter. Choose juice that is organic and 100% juice. Combine 1 cup of juice to 1 cup of your tea, pour into popsicles molds, and freeze.
I’m not going to lie, croup sucks. It sucks when your kid is sick, and it also doesn’t help you catch up on sleep or get anything done. Hopefully, you can use some of these tips to help your child get on the mend and feel better as possible so you can get back to being a superwoman!
P.S. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired and want to use herbs and essential oils to help you get your mojo and energy back, let’s talk!
I work with natural mamas who want more energy and less stress without having to take medications, rely on naps, and without having to give up coffee! Get in touch!