False croup is caused by a virus infection in the mucous membrane of the throat around the larynx.
It’s a common disease, as 15% of all children contract it before they reach the age of 7. Children aged 2-3 are particularly affected. About 10% of patients have to be admitted to hospital for treatment.
False croup can occur at any time of year, but is most pronounced in the autumn and winter. The infection is caused by a virus, and therefore cannot be treated with penicillin or other antibiotics.
It can start in some children as a common cold, which turns into the typical “barking” cough and fever. In others, there is no sign of a cold, but the barking cough and breathing problems (with no fever) can suddenly occur. The larynx of children is loosely structured, and is therefore more prone to swelling, especially when the child is lying down. False croup usually disappears by itself within 24 hours.
Symptoms of false croup
- Wheezing, breathing problems, especially when inhaling.
- “Barking” cough (croup cough)
- The cough usually occurs in the evening/night after a couple of hours of sleep
- Soreness when swallowing
- Tightness of the chest due to breathing problems.