After waking at 4:00 am with Lila on Friday morning, and not able to go back to sleep, I worked the HEAT vs. Mavs game. After being awake 19+ hours, I got to bed at 11:30. woo hoo! Early game for me. Then it happened. At 1:00AM it sounded like a seal had escaped the Miami Seaquarium and was bunking with my baby. Emylia had a barking horrific cough, and a super high fever. When I got her settled and tried to get her back to sleep, she started wheezing. Not just a little either, her breathing seemed labored, and she was really pale.I thought after vaccinating both kids from influenza this year, that it would be smooth sailing on the sick front. After all, it IS Lila’s second year at preschool, and things have been relatively quiet so far. Only a couple sniffles…until last month. My 4 1/2 year old came down with a sinus infection, which turned into bronchitis, and then finally pneumonia. She’s finally almost better, and thankfully sleeping through the night again…until this past Friday night.
I was so tired and bleary eyed I didn’t even think to grab my phone and google croup. With my husband out of town, I instinctively thought to go to the hospital. After her febrile seizures last year I didn’t want to take any chances. But after giving it more thought, I tried a steam shower. Thankfully, within ten minutes her breathing was better, and the wheezing gone. I put her in bed with me though, because I was concerned her wheezing would return. The pediatrician confirmed croup on Saturday morning, and prescribed steroids for her swollen larynx.
Croup is basically an infection of the larynx, trachea, and bronchial tubes usually caused by a virus. It’s contagious for the first few days, and is usually accompanied by fever. It’s common for kids to catch between 6 months old and 3 years, and presents with a barking cough, and a raspy breathing sounds called stridor. The vocal cords swell and narrow the airway, so children with croup needs to have their monitored closely, especially at night. Parents need lots of patience, because poor sleeping plus sick child equals grumpy days. This is what the cough sounds like if you’re not sure your child has croup. Here are a few things I’ve learned to help deal with this illness, and also, to help keep parents sane through the tedious and tiring process of caring for our sick children.
- MUST Have Humidifier–Always nap and sleep the child with cool mist humidifier.
- Sleep Upright–Try to sleep them upright to limit coughing if congested in the nasal passages. If still sleeping in a crib, try putting a blanket or pillow under the mattress to elevate. With an older child in a bed, use several pillows to help them sleep a little more upright.
- Soft Foods–Eating is tough for them, especially with sore throats. Try soups, broths, smoothies, juicing, mashed sweet potatoes or other soft food, and lots of fluids. You can even make your own electrolyte drink; 6-8 oz water, 1 tsp elderberry syrup, and a pinch of sea salt.
- NO Cough Syrup–Don’t use over the counter cough meds, just ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever.
- New Toys Help!–When picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, also pick up a new coloring book or a new small toy. This can keep them busy for a few hours when the television loses appeal. It’s amazing how a small toy can make them so happy! I bought Emy & Lila Palace Pets for $5.99, kept them busy all afternoon.
- Close Sleep Monitoring–Make sure you check them frequently while sleeping if they are wheezing. Air passages can close in rare cases.
- Simple Meals–Buy lots of precooked foods for the rest of your family. Fresh Market was my best friend this weekend!
- Sleep!–Seriously remember when they were newborns? Sleep when your child sleeps. You need the zzzzz’s just as much as they do. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!
Good luck this flu season!