croup (krōp) [key], acute obstructive laryngitis in young children, usually between the ages of three and six. The manifestations are a high-pitched cough and difficulty in breathing, owing to a spasm or swelling of the larynx. The cause can be an acute infection (especially by the influenza virus or diphtheria bacterium), an allergy, a tumor of the larynx, or obstruction by a swallowed object. Treatment depends on the cause; e.g., antibiotics are used in the case of bacterial infections, epinephrine and similar drugs in the case of allergy. The inhalation of steam from a vaporizer or hot-water faucet relieves breathing difficulties in most cases. In severe cases oxygen may be administered, or it may be necessary to cut an opening in the trachea to prevent suffocation.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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