DALLAS –– Croup, a common illness among children that creates wheezing and guttural coughs, is experiencing an uptick in North Texas.
Physicians at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas report seeing more children with the illness in the fall and winter. Dr. Andy Clark admits the symptoms are scary, but insists the illness is mild.
Philip David’s 1-year-old daughter Olivia was just diagnosed. He claims the doctor’s declaration is an understatement. He says he was terrified when his daughter began wheezing and coughing so hard that began sounding like a seal barking.
"You can't tell someone this is what it sounds like", David said. "There's nothing quite like having your less than year old daughter sounding like she's stopped breathing.”
Clark advises parents that the infectious illness typically starts with a cold and mimics some of the same symptoms: runny nose, thick mucus, hoarse voice, sore throat and barking coughs.
Philip David says in a matter of minutes, he watched his daughter Olivia go from labored breathing to short quick coughs that almost sounded like a seal. He and his wife immediately rushed her to Medical City's children's clinic.
"She made these rasping gasps that we thought were her last two breaths and we were scared, completely scared out of our minds,” he said. “I was counting cars looking to run the red light as my wife was checking to see if she was breathing.”
Clark says most kids with croup recover on their own by drinking cool liquids and spending time outdoors where the air is moist, but one of 10 children are admitted to the hospital unable to breathe. That’s when medical attention is needed.
"If the child is definitely having trouble breathing, leaning forward, drooling and not able to move air in and out, at that point they should really call 911,” the doctor said.
Since croup is viral, it is not treated with antibiotics. Steroids are often used.
Symptoms usually peak after between one and three days with treatment, but Clark says children with croup should never be given cough syrup.