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Pediatric Office-Hours Version
Clinical Content
* Viral infection of the voicebox (larynx)* The croupy cough is tight, low-pitched, and barky (like a barking seal)* The voice or cry is hoarse (laryngitis) BACKGROUND
STRIDOR: A COMPLICATION OF CROUP* Stridor is a harsh, raspy sound heard with breathing in* Loud or continuous stridor means severe croup* All stridor needs to be treated with warm mist* See FIRST AID for treatment recommendations A single oral dose of dexamethasone (Decadron) has been shown to have the following benefits for croup: (Clin Evid Concise. 2006; 15: 87-92)* Improved croup scores* More rapid clinical improvement* Decreased return visits to the ED or office* Decreased hospital admission rates (13-fold) * Shorter hospital stays for those admitted* The usual dosage of Decadron is 0.6 mg/kg/dose (maximum dose between 10 and 20 mg) In this Croup protocol, all children with stridor are referred in for an evaluation and possible treatment with Decadron. Children with barky cough alone are not referred in.
RETURN TO SCHOOL* Your child can return to day care or school after the fever is gone and your child feels well enough to participate in normal activities. For practical purposes, the spread of croup and colds cannot be prevented.
FIRST AID ADVICE FOR STRIDOR* Inhale warm mist in a foggy bathroom with the hot shower running, from a wet washcloth held near the face, or from a humidifier (add warm water) for 20 minutes. (Caution: avoid very hot water or steam which could cause burns or high body temperatures)* If that fails, inhale cool air from breathing near an open refrigerator or taking outside for a few minutes if the weather is cold.
* Warm mist may also be helpful for difficulty breathing or severe coughing without stridor.
Call EMS 911 Now
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, unable to speak or cry because of difficulty breathing, making grunting noises with each breath, severe retractions) Croup started suddenly after bee sting, taking a medicine or high-risk food Child is drooling, spitting, or having great difficulty swallowing (EXCEPTION: drooling due to teething) Sounds like a life-threatening emergency to the triager See More Appropriate Protocol
Choked on a small object that could be caught in the throat (R/O: airway FB) Go to Protocol: Choking - Inhaled Foreign Body (Pediatric) Go to ED Now
Child choked on a small object that could be caught in the throat Newborn less than 4 weeks with fever > 100.4° F (38.0° C) rectally Go to ED Now (or to Office with PCP Approval)
Age 4 - 12 weeks with fever > 100.4° F (38.0° C) rectally Child sounds very sick or weak to the triager Go to Office Now
Difficulty breathing (age < 1 year old) not relieved by cleaning the nose Difficulty breathing (age > 1 year old) present when not coughing Ribs are pulling in with each breath (retractions), but mild Stridor (harsh sound with breathing in) present now R/O: severe croup or bacterial tracheitis Copyright 1994-2008 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Rapid breathing (Breaths/min > 60 if < 2 mo; > 50 if 2-12 mo; > 40 if 1-5 years; > 30 if 6-12 years; > 20 if > 12 years old) R/O: retropharyngeal abscess or severe croup R/O: serious bacterial infection, bacterial tracheitis Sudden onset of stridor and fever after 2 days of croup See Today in Office
Reason: may need oral dexamethasone Age < 1 month (EXCEPTION: coughs a few times) Age 1-3 months with a cough for > 3 days See Within 3 Days in Office
Croup is a recurrent problem (occured 3 or more times) R/O: allergic croup or underlying abnormality of larynx Home Care
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
REASSURANCE: Most children with croup just have a barky cough. Some develop tight breathing (called stridor). Remember, coughing up mucus is very important for protecting the lungs from pneumonia.
HUMIDIFIER: If the air is dry, run a humidifier in the bedroom. (Reason: dry air makes croup worse.) HOMEMADE COUGH MEDICINE:* Before 1 year of age, only use warm clear fluids (e.g., water or apple juice) to treat the cough. Dosage: 1-3 teaspoons (5-15 ml) four times per day when coughing. Avoid honey. * After 1 year of age, use HONEY 1/2 to 1 tsp (2 to 5 ml) as needed as a homemade cough medicine. It can thin the secretions and loosen the cough. (If not available, can use corn syrup.)* After 6 years of age, use COUGH DROPS to coat the irritated throat. (If not available, can use hard candy.) OTC COUGH MEDICINE (DM): * OTC cough medicines are not recommended. (Reason: no proven benefit for children) * Honey has been shown to work better. * If the caller insists on using one AND the child is over 4 years old, help them calculate the dosage.
* Use one with dextromethorphan (DM) that is present in most OTC cough syrups. * Indication: Give only for severe coughs that interfere with sleep, school or work.
* DM Dosage: See Dosage table. Teen dose 20 mg. Give every 6 to 8 hours. * Don't use under 4 years of age. (Reason: cough is a protective reflex) COUGHING SPASMS:* Expose to warm mist (e.g., foggy bathroom). * Give warm fluids to drink (e.g., warm water or apple juice) if over 1 month old. * Amount: If under 1 year of age, give warm fluids in a dosage of 1-3 teaspoons (5-15 ml) four times per day when coughing. If over 1 year of age, use unlimited amounts as needed. * Reason: both relax the airway and loosen up the phlegm FEVER MEDICINE: For fever above 102° F (39° C), give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen.
OBSERVATION DURING SLEEP: Sleep in the same room with your child for a few nights. (Reason: can suddenly develop stridor at night) AVOID TOBACCO SMOKE: Active or passive smoking makes coughs much worse.
CONTAGIOUSNESS: Your child can return to day care or school after the fever is gone and your child feels well enough to participate in normal activities. For practical purposes, the spread of croup and colds cannot be prevented.
EXPECTED COURSE: Croup usually lasts 5 to 6 days and becomes worse at night.
CALL BACK IF:* Stridor (harsh raspy sound) occurs* Croupy cough lasts over 14 days* Your child becomes worse EXTRA ADVICE - TRIAGER CALLBACK OPTION: For stridor without respiratory distress, triager initiates callback after 20 minutes of warm mist.
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Bjornson CL, Johnson DW. That characteristic cough: when to treat croup and what to use. Contemp Pediatr. 2001;18(10):74-82.
Bjornson CL, Klassen TP, Williamson J, et al. A randomized trial of a single dose of oral dexamethasone for mild croup. N Engl J Med. 2004; 351: 1306-1313.
Britto J, Habibi P, Walters S, Levin M, Nadel S. Systemic complications associated with bacterial tracheitis. Arch Dis Child. 1996;72:249-250.
Brown J, Klassen TP. Croup. In: Moyer V, Davis RL, Elliott E, et al, eds. Evidence Based Pediatrics and Child Health. London, England: BMJ Publishing Group; 2000. p. 214-227 Custer JR. Croup and related disorders. Pediatr Rev. 1993;14:19-29.
Hopkins A, Lahiri T, Salemerno R., et. al. Changing epidemiology of life-threatening upper airway infections: the reemergence of bacterial tracheitis. Pediatrics. 2006;118(4):1418-1421.
Kaditis AG and Wald ER. Viral croup: Current diagnosis and treatment. Contemp Pediatr. 1999;16(2):139-153.
Klassen TP. Croup: A current perspective. Pediatr Clin North Am. 1999;46(6):1167-1178.
Malhotra A and Krilov LR. Viral croup. Pediatr Rev. 2001;22:5-12.
Scolnik D, Coates A, Stephens D, et al. Controlled delivery of high vs low humidity vs mist therapy for croup in emergency departments. JAMA. 2006;295:1274-1280.
Wenger JK. Supraglottitis and group A streptococcus. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1997;16:1005-1007.
Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Content Set:
Telephone Triage Protocols - Pediatric Office-Hours Version
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Copyright 1994-2008 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.


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