Charity Health and Wellbeing

CROUP: Know the danger signs…


Croup is a relatively common respiratory infection, usually caused by a virus, that affects around 15% of children at some point during childhood. The infection leads to swelling inside the trachea, which interferes with normal breathing and produces the classic symptoms of “barking” cough, stridor and a hoarse voice. Fever and runny nose may also be present. In many case these symptoms are mild to moderate and will usually pass on their own within 48 hours*. However in some instances is can be very serious and even life threatening which, terrifyingly, was the case for our baby boy. Here is Albert’s story…

On Tuesday 23rd October (our 7th Wedding Anniversary) our world shattered around us when our beautiful 10 month old baby boy Albert became desperately ill ending up in Southampton’s specialist PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit), intubated and on a ventilator.

Having been under the weather over the weekend we took Albert to the doctors who after checking him over told us it was nothing than a cold virus. That evening he went down hill; he was vomiting a lot and then began making a harsh sound (the Stridor) and struggling to breath. We called an ambulance and he was taken to CAU (Children’s Assessment Unit). There we were told it was Croup and he was given a dose of Dexamethasone, which helps to widen the airways, and asked to wait for 4 hours to make sure the drug worked. It did and we were sent home with a leaflet about Croup. However the following day Albert’s condition worsened, his breathing became laboured, his tummy was sucking in under his ribs and it was clear that he was really struggling. We drove him back to CAU where we were told his oxygen levels had dropped down to 90 and that he needed support. We were rushed into RESUS where they gave him “blow-by” administration oxygen (waving the oxygen source near his face). When this did nothing they tried adrenaline, to no avail.

What happened next is a bit of a blur as doctor after doctor came in and out of the room. They started talking about anaesthetic and intensive care and a whole load of other medical jargon. Chest X-rays where taken which confirmed our worst fear, he was in respiratory failure due to a collapsed lung. He also had pneumonia and was a very sick little boy so therefore required intubation (placement of a plastic tube into the trachea to aid breathing) a procedure performed under general anaesthetic, to give his little lungs the best chance of recovery. Albert was then transferred to PICU where he spent the next three days under sedation on the ventilator being cared for 24-7 by the most amazing team of nurses and doctors. Thankfully he made a remarkable recovery and after 6 days Albert was discharged home.

The reason for me sharing our story is to help raise awareness of Croup as we had no idea just how serious it can be. The main symptoms, which are usually worse at night, can include:

     • Barking cough that sounds like a seal
• Hoarse voice
     • Difficulty breathing
     • Rasping sound when breathing in

However the best advice I can give is, trust your instinct. You’re the parent and you know your own child.

As the old saying goes ‘Mother knows best’.

Chilling with his little PICU Elephant just before being transferred back to the Children’s Ward after being discharged from PICU.

As a way to give back to the hospital that saved Albert, my husband and I are taking part in the Southampton Half Marathon on Sunday 5th May to help raise funds for ‘Friends of PICU’.

If you would like to donation please visit our Just Giving page

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