Pseudocroup: causes, symptoms, treatment, prognosis

A child wakes up, is short of breath, has difficulty breathing and has a barking cough. There may be pseudocroup. This disease involves swelling of the laryngeal mucosa around the vocal cords, causing one or more attacks of shortness of breath. Pseudocroup generally occurs in children under three years of age. What causes pseudocroup, what are the symptoms and how can you relieve the child’s breathing? What is the prognosis for pseudocroup?

Article content

  • Pseudocroup
  • Symptoms of pseudocroup
  • When should you definitely consult a doctor?
  • What can you do yourself?
  • What can the doctor do?
  • Prognosis pseudocroup


The upper part of the trachea is inflamed and narrowed due to a viral infection . It mainly occurs in children between six months and five years of age. Pseudocroup occurs slightly more often in boys than in girls, but it is not known why. During an attack of pseudocroup, the trachea becomes inflamed due to a viral infection. The air supply is limited and the child will breathe heavily. Pseudocroup mainly occurs in autumn and winter .

Symptoms of pseudocroup

Pseudocroup usually starts with symptoms reminiscent of a common cold. For example, a child may have a runny nose. After a few days, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Heavy breathing accompanied by a lot of noise, especially when breathing in (whooping breathing);
  • A dry cough with a sound reminiscent of barking;
  • Hoarseness;
  • The temperature is normal or at most around 38 degrees.

When should you definitely consult a doctor?

  • If you do not trust it, it is always wise to call a doctor.
  • If breathing becomes very fast and labored, this can lead to oxygen deficiency. Tongue and lips turn blue (cyanosis). If this occurs, call a doctor or 911 immediately.
  • Also contact a doctor if the child becomes drowsy or is very restless.

What can you do yourself?

  • It is very important to remain calm, this will also have a good influence on the child. With fear or panic, the shortness of breath can increase.
  • Try to distract the child, for example by reading a book.
  • Steam can help, but its effect has not been scientifically proven. It can sometimes help to weaken the coughing stimulus. Direct the hot shower at the cold wall to create steam. Sit in the bathroom with your child.
  • Give the child something to drink that soothes the throat. For example, tea with a little sugar.

What can the doctor do?

Depending on the severity, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids to suppress the inflammation of the airways.
If the symptoms are severe, admission to hospital may be necessary. Very occasionally ventilation is required.

Prognosis pseudocroup

Most children get better within a few days. The child may develop pseudocroup again up to the age of about five years. In children over five years old, the airways are wider and will not easily become narrowed by inflammation.