Yesterday evening I did some yoga in the office while hubs watched the semis or the playoffs or whatever that round of NFL games was called. It was peaceful and uneventful, my kind of evening, and I went to bed early with a book and was asleep by 10pm. I should have known never to trust a calm evening, and sure enough, by midnight the storm was brewing.
Charlotte’s coughing startled me out of sleep because of how pathetically weak it sounded. It was as though she was trying to cough with a ball in her mouth. I was so worried that she had something stuck in there, but since there was nothing in her crib but pacifiers, and since she had been sleeping soundly since 6:30pm, it seemed unrealistic. I bounded into her room, and she seemed upset but had a healthy pink face and no fever. Horrible, barking cough continued. Unsure of what to do, I went for the old standby of children’s ibuprofen and running upstairs with her to wake Nate up.
Once he calmed my hysterics (middle-of-the-night-baby-sickness is not my forte), he made the excellent recommendation to dial our 24-hour nurse hotline provided by our HMO. Neither of us wanted to go to the ER because we knew it would upset Charlotte and possibly cause her to become even more sick. I got out our American Academy of Pediatrics book (link via picture), which I hardly ever flip through these days but is always helpful to have on hand.
It seemed she probably either had croup or whooping cough, but how to know which one? Luckily the respiratory infections are in the same section, so you can easily compare symptoms and treatments. I knew from public health school that croup was the better one to have, so I rooted for croup going into our hotline call–I sincerely hope that’s the last time I "root for croup."
The hotline nurse was fantastic, asking all the right questions, staying calm, and even laughing at my lame attempt at a joke ("I keep telling her five packs a day is too many!"). After determining her airway wasn’t blocked by having her sip water, and that she didn’t have a fever and looked happy, she said it was likely croup and recommended we speak to our on-call pediatrician. By this time, Charlotte was happily playing with the kitty in our bedroom like it was two o’clock in the afternoon (meanwhile, I resembled a cross between Popeye and Slash).
So what is croup? According to the AAP book, croup is a virus the causes "an inflammation of the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea)," which leads to the labored breath and bark-like cough. The doctor immediately agreed with the nurse that it was croup and gave the thumbs-up to our ibuprofen decision. When I asked about a trip to the hospital, she said "Oh heavens no, definitely not. Just take her outside and let her breathe the cold air." After five minutes of what must be an age-old remedy, she was breathing normally again and asleep within the hour. I, on the other hand, not so much with the sleeping in the nighttime.
Scary stuff. If you’ns out there ever have this happen to you, now you know how to treat croup. Ibuprofen and a chilly walk around the block.
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