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croup(kro͞op), 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.
a syndrome of affection of the larynx, characterized by suffocation, a barking cough, and a hoarse voice.
Croup develops when there is inflammation of the mucosa of the larynx and trachea. A distinction is made between true croup and false croup. True croup is based on fibrinous inflammation of the mucosa of the larynx, with formation of films on its surface, mainly caused by the diphtheria bacillus. Typical of it is progressively increasing suffocation. With false croup, catarrhal inflammation with edema of the laryngeal mucosa (especially in the area of the vocal cords) arises when there is viral influenza, parainfluenza infection, measles, and so forth. Croup with expressed edema of the larynx may also develop with an allergy, burns of the larynx (most often with alkali), and so on. Attacks of suffocation with cough when there is false croup arise suddenly; a resounding tone is heard during coughing and crying. The suffocation quickly subsides and passes after several hours, especially under the influence of thermal procedures. The principal role (regardless of the causative agent of the disease) in the mechanism of the attacks is played by the reflex spasm of the laryngeal muscles, as a result of irritation of the nerve endings of the mucosa.
True croup is treated with an emergency injection of antidiphtheria serum. With false croup steps are taken to treat the disease that causes the spasms; warm foot baths are given as first aid. If true croup is progressive (this is rare with false croup), emergency surgery (tracheotomy) is undertaken. Prophylaxis includes prevention and timely treatment of infectious and allergic diseases and inoculation against diphtheria.
IA. O. OL’SHANSKII