(HealthDay News) -- Croup occurs in children when inflammation, usually caused by a virus, affects the voicebox and upper airways. The illness -- actually a group of similar conditions -- is characterized by a barking sound, like that of a seal, when the child cries or coughs.
Initial symptoms may be similar to those of a cold, including runny or stuff nose. Cough and difficulty breathing usually worsen at night or when the child is crying or agitated. According to the Nemours Foundation, croup most often strikes children between 3 months and 5 years of age, usually during winter and early spring. Children who contract croup under age 3 are likely to have the most severe symptoms.
Doctors may prescribe a steroid regimen, which will help reduce the swelling of the voicebox and help your child breathe easier. Steam treatments, like running a humidifier or putting your child in a steamy bathroom, also may help alleviate symptoms.