Causes of Barking Cough in Babies & its Treatment, Home Remedies, Symptoms, Prevention

In the stages right after birth, the baby goes through various changes to adjust to the environment outside the womb. While the babies are going through the adjustment with the environment, a child might become a victim to certain conditions too. Barking cough, which is a symptom of croup, is one such fairly common respiratory condition that develops in babies. This is a sort of viral infection or an allergic reaction that affects the windpipe, the bronchi and the larynx of the baby. Children aged 6 months to 3 years are most susceptible to barking cough or croup. More common in the autumn and winter, barking cough or croup makes it hard for the baby to breathe.

Causes of Barking Cough in Babies

Causes of Barking Cough in Babies

The most common cause of barking cough or croup in babies is infection from the HPIVs or the human parainfluenza viruses. This virus group is basically a group of four air borne viruses which can infect a baby easily. Coming in contact with an infected person can also cause barking cough in babies. Infected hands, contaminated foods or water, sneeze or cough coming in contact with the baby can also cause the baby to have croup.

Symptoms of Barking Cough or Croup in Babies

The symptoms of barking cough in babies or croup lasts for about 3-5 days despite treatment started. Some common associated symptoms of barking cough are:

Croup Cough: A child with croup will cough in manner that sounds like a dog barking. This cough is more prominent in the night and makes it hard for the baby to get the desired rest.

Noise While Breathing: If a baby is infected with the barking cough, he/she will have a hard time breathing and would be making a sharp rasping noise called stridor while doing so.

Swelling of the Trachea: Another common symptom of croup is that it makes the lining of the trachea swell up, closing the airways which limits smooth breathing of the baby.

Fever: Fever is one of the symptoms along with barking cough in the babies suffering from croup.

Irritability in Babies: If the baby has croup and is experiencing barking cough, then there is quite a chance that the baby does not get the desired rest; moreover the difficulty in the breathing makes the baby cranky and irritable.

Difficulty in Swallowing: Since the air passage gets a little blocked due to the infection of the croup virus, the baby has a hard time swallowing food.

Hoarse Croaky Voice: The swelling up of the trachea lining makes the voice of the baby turn hoarse and croaky.

Diagnosis of Barking Cough in Babies

To be sure of this condition, it is best to consult a doctor. The doctor would examine the child’s breathing and make sure that the baby does not have congestion. The insides of the throat of the baby are checked and the doctor may ask questions about any recent illnesses the baby might have come in contact with. In severe cases, the doctor may even order an x-ray of the baby’s chest to rule out the other reasons for the barking cough and to confirm the diagnosis of croup.

Treatment & Home Remedies for Barking Cough in Babies

For most cases of barking cough in babies or croup, the treatment can be done at home itself. Some simple home remedies to treat barking cough in babies include:

Hydration: Moisture works best for clearing out any blocked air ways; and therefore it is essential that the baby be given more fluids and water to be kept well hydrated and the throat moist. This will help a lot with the swallowing difficulties the baby has with barking cough.

Hot Shower: The baby cannot take a hot shower on its own, parents’ help is needed. It is advised to run the shower, close the bathroom door and let the child breathe in the warm steamy air to open the blocked airways in croup.

Taking A Walk In The Cool Night Air: If it is a damp cool evening, a walk outside the house with your baby also helps in relieving barking cough and the condition of croup and help the baby breathe more easily.

Humidifier: Since moisture and humidity seem to be the best treatment for a baby suffering with barking cough and croup, it is recommended that a humidifier be installed in the baby’s room. But care should be maintained regarding keeping the air filters clean and bacteria free every day.

Breathing Through Wet Wash Cloth: Making the baby breathe through a warm wet wash cloth also helps take in the moisture and works towards easing out the virus infection in the throat and relieves barking cough and other symptoms of croup in babies.

Preventing Barking Cough & Croup in Babies

Since the problem of croup and its associated barking cough in baby trouble the parent in various ways too, therefore it is best to take necessary precautions so that such a condition does not arise. Some precautions for avoiding barking cough in babies or croup include:

Good & Frequent Hand Washing: Croup infection is most commonly a viral infection. So, to make sure that your baby is safe from any viruses, you should ensure that you wash your hands frequently and properly to avoid contamination to your baby.

No Sharing: Another precaution for avoiding croup and preventing barking cough in babies is to avoid any sharing of plates, cups and other utensils with others. This again helps avoiding contamination through contact.

No Going Out: In case your child has been diagnosed with croup, make sure that he/she does not go out to play or to school to make sure that the croup contamination is not spread further.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 11, 2022

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