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Humid Air is Little Help for Croup's Barking Cough

ys than older children and adults.

Physicians rate the severity of croup by noting signs of labored breathing and poor oxygen intake. The croup score and health outcomes for the children treated with moist air were not significantly different than the scores for the patients who received no treatment, the review found.

“I think that probably the successes that were attributed to humidity in the past were due to the calming effect of the parent believing that they were doing something, the child taking deeper breaths, the child getting over the spasmodic element of the croup, and then just getting better,” said Dennis Scolnik, an emergency room pediatrician at The Hospital for Sick Children/Toronto in Ontario, Canada.

“I think humidity probably wouldn’t harm. But I think it’s a false sense of security,” Scolnik said.

The finding that moist air does not help croup should be no surprise to physicians who’ve been trained or kept up-to-date in the last five to eight years, Scolnik said. But he added that popular beliefs are hard to root out of medical practice and common use.

”It’s probably going to take as much as a generation of doctors — and through that parents — 10, 15, 25 years to work its way out of the system. Most of our parents are going to come in and say ‘Oh, you’re not giving humidity, why not?’” Scolnik said.

Scolnik says he now suggests calming techniques that can be tried at home for mild croup. And he educates parents about the signs of severe illness that require a trip to the hospital.

“Bad is: they are a little bit drowsy, lethargic, pale, sucking in very hard with each breath, or the oxygen level is not good, or the sound is very marked. So for those kids we do have much more effective, known proven effective treatments.”

For moderately severe croup, physicians use nebulized (given by mist) adrenaline — sometimes call epinephrine — to quickly to relieve sy
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