When children are ill, parents naturally worry. They give all their attention to their little one, tend to all its needs and aim to exhaust all methods and means that may offer relief to the child’s suffering. If then a cough sounds oddly ‘barking’, and breathing is audible by a wheezing, squeaky sound, alarm bells start to ring for a mother or father.
Croup is characterized by such a ‘barking’ cough that often makes parents take their children to see the doctor. However, this is only necessary in severe cases, where the body temperature is very high, or respiration is greatly impaired. For the milder cases there are homeopathic remedies that may help to alleviate.
Croup is a viral infection that affects the upper airways, the larynx, trachea and the bronchi. It is a childhood disease that can affect children between 3 months and 5 years. Croup is contagious; it may therefore be contracted more than once during childhood.
Initially it may appear the child has contracted a cold, as symptoms mimic those of a common cold. However, when the associated cough develops into the characteristic dry, ‘barking’, it is likely that the child has croup. The little patient may have fever, breathing may be difficult and inspiration may produce that distinctive wheezing sound. The voice may sound harsh and raspy, and the presenting symptoms are usually worse at night.
Symptoms are usually mild, and alleviation can be brought on by few ‘home’ measures. Hydration is a most important factor and the sick child should be encouraged to sip clear liquids such as water, juice or herbal tea. Milk products should be avoided as these produce more mucus and this is commonly already an associated symptom of croup, and may be a cause of discomfort to the child.
A common ‘home-remedy’ is the inhalation of warm moist air. This can be achieved by sitting the child next to the running shower. This can alleviate symptoms and may calm the cough.
The following homeopathic remedies are known to be helpful in cases of croup.
Aconite: This remedy alone may suffice to alleviate of the presenting symptoms. The dry barking cough is prominent, the child has difficulty breathing, is restless, nervous, and anxious. There is fever and the skin feels hot and dry. The patient has a thirst for cold drinks.
Belladonna: This remedy is indicated where a flushing of the face accompanies the characteristic symptoms. The child starts from sleep and there is drowsiness. The skin feels dry and hot.
Hepar sulph.: This follows well on Aconite, where there is a rattling sound of the phlegm in the respiratory tract. There is labored breathing and profuse sweating while coughing.
Spongia: This is another valuable remedy for croup. It has less fever than Aconite, but is also accompanied by restlessness and anxiety. The coughing is almost incessant, and there is no rattling of phlegm.
Drosera: A specific of this remedy are the attacks after midnight, and the need to sit up. Lying down brings on the coughing. The child may hold its chest while coughing. There is the feeling of a lump in the larynx.
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