Croup and reflux are unpleasant illnesses for both you and your child. Croup usually only affects small children, particularly those younger than the age of 5. Although you may think of reflux as something only adults get, it is also common in young children. There may be a connection between the two ailments, so if your child frequently gets croup, you may want to have him checked for reflux.
The key symptom of croup is a loud cough that usually happens at night. According to both MayoClinic.com and Medline Plus, the cough usually sounds like the bark of a seal. If your child has croup, he may have a slight cold a few days before the coughing starts. Since the cough is caused by swelling around the trachea and vocal cords, a child may have difficulty breathing with the croup. If your child makes a loud noise while inhaling or has a fever over 103 degrees F, you should take him to a doctor.
If your child has gastroesophageal reflux, the contents of his stomach will flow back into his esophagus. Sometimes, reflux is not noticeable, since the food will simply return back to the stomach, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. If the food stays in the esophagus or continues up to the mouth, your child may wheeze, experience heartburn or have a sore throat. Other symptoms of reflux include vomiting and weight loss. In some cases, children with reflux may develop pneumonia.
A 2008 study conducted by pediatric otolaryngologists at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan found a connection between children who had frequent croup and children who suffered from reflux. Of the 66 study participants, 47 per cent had recurrent croup as well as reflux. Study participants who had reflux tended to be hospitalized more often for croup. Children with both ailments tended to be younger than children who had only croup.
Usually, croup can be treated at home. If your child has croup, MayoClinic.com recommends sitting with him in a steamy bathroom or taking him for a walk so that he can breathe in cool outside air. Pain relievers can also help bring his fever down. If the croup is severe, your child may need to take steroids or have a breathing tube inserted in his trachea. If the croup is caused by a bacteria, not a virus, your child may need to take antibiotics. Croup caused by reflux can be treated by treating the reflux.
Give your children smaller meals, and do not let them eat several hours before bed to prevent reflux. You can attempt to prevent croup by washing your hands and your child’s hands frequently, and by avoiding anyone who has a respiratory infection. While there isn’t a specific vaccine against croup, the flu vaccine, diphtheria vaccine and measles vaccine may help protect your child from the disease, according to MayoClinic.com.