My 2 boys (ages 2 and 4) have had croup more than 5 times between them and every single time it’s turned everything upside down. My last experience started last Sunday (16th March), and I thought I would share this story to help parents with what to know when dealing with it.
Firstly, What is Croup?
Croup is a viral infection that causes an inflammation of the larynx and trachea, they swell and put pressure on the windpipe, which is what causes a very loud wheezing sound when your child breathes. It effects younger children more, because their windpipe is still small. It can last approximately 3-4 days, and the cough can last a few weeks after the inflammation has gone down. Most cases result in going to hospital for immediate assistance.
The Signs of Croup
Firstly, your child could have a runny nose in the days before and look like they are coming down with a cold. They get a very distinctive barking like cough, and may have evident breathing difficulties, if you look at their stomach and they are drawing in hard enough for their ribs to show, then it’s serious. Also they will have a very loud wheeze, or rattling sound, which is called Stridor. They can go pale, become lethargic from the lack of oxygen and lastly blue lips.
To start, my husband has gone to South Australia for work and family affairs for a week, so I was home alone with my 2 boys. My youngest Davin, had gone to hospital days before with a burn to his arm. I was set to get his bandages redone, and go to my neice’s 2nd birthday party, but everything changed that very night.
2am I woke to the sound of a child stirring, I thought it was my eldest as he had asthma, but it turned out to be Davin. I came into his room and he was sitting up coughing; a horrid barking sound, and gasping for air. I freaked, quickly called my Dad and he came over to watch my eldest, and I called 000.
The ambulance came and we were taken to hospital and straight to the ER department. They gave him a steroid to help open up his windpipe, but it didn’t work, so we ended up having to get set up for adrenaline. Davin was held down by 2 nurses, a doctor and myself, as they stuck monitoring spots on his torso, and a mask over his face. He screamed and coughed and cried wanting us to stop. It was terrible. He really fought hard, kept popping the wires off his chest, pulling the lead pipe to the mask out.
We had to wait an hour to see if the adrenaline had worked. But the horrible whistling stridor sound in his breathing was still there. So we had to go through the whole mask and adrenaline a second time, he fought long and hard again for us to leave him alone, and eventually fell asleep from a lack of oxygen and from being tired.
We were sent to the Temp Paed ward. In experience the other times I have been, after the steroid we would be home in about 6hrs. Things were looking hopeful. Davin’s chest was clear, and I was hoping we would be home at lunch time that day. But unfortunately after a nap, he woke up and his breathing went down hill from there.
We were moved to the Children Paed ward. He was watched closely but nothing improved, the sound was getting worse, his breathing was getting harder. We were getting ready for another night in hospital.
I really was losing it at this stage, my phone had run out of power, I wasn’t really prepared for the length of stay we were having, I was feeling dirty in my clothes from the day before. Also, I hadn’t eaten or drunk much in the time I had been already. I couldn’t contact my husband, I rang my mother on the hospital phone just letting her know how much longer we were going to be.
Then someone was smiling on me, as my best friend managed to call me through the hospital and asked me if I needed anything. She had heard from the long line of people that I was still in the hospital.
Right after I hung up the phone, the Dr and the nurses decided it was time for another hit of adrenaline, we were taking back to the emergency department, new monitoring spots were put on his chest, and by this stage, Davin had very little fight to stop what was happening, and just let it happen, he sobbed. It broke my heart to see him so unhappy, I sat there holding him and cried. They prepared him after for a drip in his hand, the entire time he hadn’t drunk very much and they were afraid of him dehydrating. They also wanted to pump a new steroid into him that would help prevent the stridor to return.
It was distressing for me to see a doctor and 2 nurses try and get a drip into his hand, while he cried in my arms. But after a bit of messing about the job was done and we were placed in an emergency observation bed while his dose of the steroid pumped into his veins. At this time my best friend had arrived and kept me company before I was shuttled back to the Children’s Paed.
Davin fell promptly to sleep after that, and there was absolutely no sound in his chest. I knew he was going to sleep well.
The night staff were absolutely lovely, and let me have a shower before turning into sleep. Davin slept from 10pm- 6am the next morning, and his chest still remained clear. In the morning the Doctor checked him and said he sounded good.
I was itching to go home now, I was tired, emotionally wrecked and Davin seemed happy.
The 10am Doctor came and glanced over him, and said, we might have to stay til 4pm, because it’s often in the afternoon that the Croup seemed to relapse, so they wanted us to cover our bases, so we didn’t have to come back. It made sense. As desperate as I was to go home, I agreed.
We stayed, I was getting frustrated with Davin, the IV drip was bothering him and he kept trying to rip it out with his teeth. He was getting frustrated with being stuck in his little room, and wanted nothing more but to run around.
Finally we were seen by a Doctor shortly after 4, and was finally released at 5pm-ish after his IV drip was removed.
The moment we got home Davin jumped all over the couch, enjoyed some dinner and milk, and was put to bed at 7pm, and we had no peep from him.
Normally Davin wakes at 6-7am. He was still laying in bed, and I figured he must of been tired from the long days in hospital and I would let him sleep. My Mum stayed home with him while I took my eldest to Kinder. To my surprise when I got back after 9am, he was still in bed. I went and checked him, he was burning up, and he wasn’t staying awake, he was very drowsy, his breathing was fast. I rang 000 yet again.
They sent 2 teams, the normal grade ambulance, and the re-suss team. His temperature was 39.9C and we were rushed back to hospital. On arrival his temp hit 40.7C.
We were quickly greeted by the nurses and doctors we saw the day before, all very sad to see us back, he was given steroid, and panadol, then I was syringing 10mls of water to him every 5mins.
There was no messing about, we were taken back to the Children’s Paed ward, and it was automatically going to be an overnight stay. The room we were in this time was one with a cot. Davin just laid in his bed and fell asleep, staying asleep until 2pm. I was given the job of keeping up a chart of his drink in take, food, and nappies, to make sure he was getting enough.
At about 7pm he was beginning to look normal, he was alert, happy and his fever broke. He fell asleep again at 8pm.
During this time my husband cut his trip short and had returned home to be there for my eldest who was becoming distressed with his Mummy and Daddy’s absence. Next morning, Davin was grizzly, I had been told he had a mild fever in the night, but his cough was sounding less harsh. The early start doctor said his chest was good and clear and that we were looking good to be sent home, we just had to wait for the day Doctor to agree. Davin ate and drank and I continued to jot the information down for the nurses.
Come 10am. Doctors came in, there were 9 of them, Davin seemed to be their case study for the day. And well with 9 Doctors at least I would get good confirmation that being released is a good thing. And yes we were released, thank goodness.
We’re home now and my fingers are crossed that this is it.
The thing I learned from this. Even though I have had been through Croup many times before, it never stops being scary. My recommendation, don’t wait, just go. Even though your child seems fine, keep in mind 3-4 days is as long as the virus SHOULD go, but sometimes depending on the child, and if the child has another infection of some sort, it can last longer. So if you get sent home, have a hospital bag aside JUST IN CASE, cause night time is the worst for this illness.
Steam, the thing I learned from the doctors, even though it had been recommended in the past by doctors and nurses a like, it has recently been proven that it does nothing.
Go to hospital, don’t wait, because it can go from okay to something scary very quickly.