My son has a barking cough that seems to get worse when he goes to bed. What should I do about it?

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Sounds like your son may have croup, a viral infection of the upper, or neck portion of the airway. Swelling of the upper airway causes the hoarse, barking, or metallic cough of croup.

Croup usually lasts 5 or 6 days and is usually worse at night. The second and third nights are usually the worst.

Home Treatment
There are several techniques you can use at home to make him feel more comfortable and sleep better:

  • The Washcloth Technique: Soak a terry washcloth with warm water and place it loosely over your child’s nose and mouth.
  • The Shower Technique: Meanwhile, turn the shower on hot, close the bathroom door, and open the shower curtain/door. When the bathroom is full of steam, take your child in and sit with him/her for 15 minutes.
  • Cool mist: If these techniques work, then run a cool-mist humidifier in the child’s room. If you don’t have a cool mist humidifier, hang wet sheets or towels in the child’s room.
  • Warm fluids: These work better than cough medicines. Warm apple juice, lemonade, or teas are best.
  • Comfort medicines: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) are helpful even if the child does not have a fever.

Call us immediately at 508-820-9699 if:

  • Your child develops difficulty breathing
  • Your child begins drooling, spitting, or has a hard time swallowing
  • The skin between your child’s ribs draws in when he/she inhales
  • Your child cannot sleep because of croup
  • The Washcloth/Shower techniques do not make your child feel better within 20 minutes
  • You believe your child is getting worse

Call during call-hour at 508-820-9699 if:

  • The coughing spasms are worse
  • Your child stops drinking his usual amount
  • You have any questions or concerns
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