Case scenario

Young mum Rachel brings her son Ben, who is 2 years old, into the pharmacy to ask your advice. Ben is fidgety with a mild temperature and has had a respiratory tract infection for a few days. He woke last night crying with a barking cough and sometimes noisy breathing. Rachel’s mother suggested sitting with Ben in the bathroom, closing the door and running hot water so he could inhale the steam. Should Rachel take Ben to the hospital or their GP?

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Describe the symptoms of croup
  • Discuss the management of croup
  • Explain the role of the pharmacist in the management of children with croup.

Competency standards (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 2.3, 3.2, 3.5

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Introduction

Croup (acute laryngotracheobronchitis) is an inflammatory condition of the upper airway, larynx and trachea – usually triggered by a viral infection.1 The illness is mostly mild and self-limiting but uncommonly can be severe, even life-threatening.2 It is a common cause of airway obstruction in young children.1,2

Croup is characterised by a distinctive barking cough that may be accompanied by inspiratory stridor, widespread wheeze and a hoarse voice, with or without respiratory distress. Parents, carers and treating healthcare professionals need to keep a child with croup calm, as distress (e.g. during examination) can worsen symptoms.2

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