Croup treatment available online today

Request treatment for croup today from our trusted, board-certified primary care online doctors and get relief from coughing and discomfort today. Get a new prescription for croup or refill an existing prescription today.*

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Typically affects children ages 3 months to 3 years

Relief from Cough and Airway Restriction

Breathe better with doctor-recommended prescriptions

*Prescriptions are provided at the doctor’s discretion. Learn more about our controlled substances policy and how you can save up to 80% with our prescription discount card. PlushCare doctors cannot treat all cases of croup. Our primary care physicians can conduct an initial evaluation of your symptoms, but may need to refer you to a specialist or for in-person treatment. If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Learn about croup

Croup is a common childhood illness that is a result of an upper airway infection. The trachea is the main airway through which we breathe. When a child has croup, the infection narrows a portion of the airway called the subglottic airway, a portion of the larynx immediately below the vocal folds. Croup is common in young children. Young children between the ages of 3 months to 3 years are typically affected by croup. Cases of croup usually involve children and are uncommon after the age of 6 years old.

Croup can affect a child's breathing resulting in a distinct, barky cough. Viral croup is the most common type and is characterized by recognizable noisy breathing. In most children, croup goes away on its own, but some children with croup will need to visit a doctor. Croup is slightly more prevalent among boys than girls.

Croup causes

  • Croup is a term used to describe a variety of respiratory illnesses in children. Croup is caused by a viral infection, such as the influenza virus or other common cold viruses. Viruses are spread through the air when a sick person coughs or sneezes. Once the child is infected with a respiratory virus, croup can develop.

    Croup begins like a regular cold, and then the upper airway becomes involved. Risk factors include:

    • Being around sick people

    • Poor hand hygiene

    • A family history of asthma

    Children who have allergies are more prone to croup. Croup is more prevalent in the fall and winter months when respiratory viruses are rampant.

Symptoms of croup

  • Doctors can diagnose croup by identifying common symptoms. Children who get croup usually start off with nasal stuffiness and a runny nose. A day or 2 later they will develop these symptoms:

    • Cough

    • Runny nose

    • Fever

    • Whistling sound while breathing

    • Barking cough (seal's bark)

    • Frequent awakenings at night

    • Worse at night

    • Hoarse voice

    • Rash

    • Eye redness

    • Swollen lymph nodes

    Severe cases (severe croup) have more serious symptoms such as:

    • Trouble breathing

    • Spasmodic croup

    • Cannot speak or cry due to increased breathing

    • Cannot calm down

    • High pitched breathing even while sitting or resting (called stridor)

    • Turns blue or very pale

    If your child has difficulty breathing or any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention at your local emergency department or call 9-1-1.

How to treat croup

Treating croup focuses on your child's breathing. Croup is uncomfortable for most children, but parents can help. Parents have home treatment options that can be done to help your child feel better.

The main treatments of croup are aimed at relieving the airway edema and narrowing. This is done by giving the child medications to help relax the upper airway, reduce coughing fits, and let more air in, or by giving supplemental oxygen for the child to breathe. Your doctor will not give you antibiotics to treat croup, since croup is caused by a virus and not bacteria.

Breathing treatments are used to help your child breathe better while the virus runs its course.

In order to help your child's breathing:

  • Have your child breathe cool air for a few minutes or use a cool mist humidifier. The cool night air will improve symptoms of croup.

  • You can also go into the bathroom with your child while hot water is running in the shower, creating steam. Steam treatment and humidification helps relax vocal cords and soothes upper airway constriction.

  • Make sure your child takes over the counter medications to treat their fever and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. To soothe sore throats, give them warm, clear liquids.

Children with croup should be considered contagious for 3 days after the illness begins.

Medication for croup

  • Dexamethasone is a steroid that is used to reduce inflammation.

    Inhaled racemic epinephrine is used in severe croup cases and reduces swelling within 15 minutes after the first dose is given. This is a treatment that is usually given in the emergency room and requires close monitoring.

How to prevent croup

There are no vaccines for croup, but preventative measures can be done to reduce the occurrence of croup. Recurrent croup can occur in some children. Croup is caused by viruses that spread easily from person to person.

It is important to prevent symptoms by washing your hands and your child's hands often with soap and water. Stay away from other adults and children that are sick. Get your child a flu vaccine every year. Do not smoke around your child and do not allow people who smoke inside your house or around your child. Smoke can irritate a child's lungs and make croup symptoms worse or cause a respiratory infection that can lead to croup.

Simple hygiene measures can help prevent infections that lead to croup.

When to see a doctor for croup

Contact your child's doctor if you have any concerns about your child's breathing or wellbeing. If you are worried about your child's symptoms, sleep in the same room as your child so that you can hear any changes in breathing patterns or signs of distress.

Make an appointment to see a doctor if your child's symptoms do not go away, they have noisy breathing, cough deepens, cannot break a fever, or cannot sleep at night due to coughing.

Croup treatment FAQs

  • What is the best treatment for croup?

    For mild croup, use a cool mist humidifier, treat fever, and ensure the child drinks enough fluids.

  • What is the best medication for croup?

    Dexamethasone and acetaminophen are the best medications for croup.

  • What is the best thing to do for croup?

    Monitor for signs of difficulty breathing so that you know when you need to seek medical care.

  • Does croup go away on its own?

    Yes, croup symptoms usually resolve in 2 days but can persist up to 7 days.

  • What triggers croup?

    Viral infections trigger croup.

  • How long does the croup virus last?

    Croup can last up to 7 days, with gradual improvement seen over the days passed.

  • Do you need antibiotics for croup?

    No, antibiotics treat bacterial infections, and croup is a viral infection.

3 simple steps to request treatment for croup today

Step 1: Book an appointment

Step 1

Book a croup treatment appointment.

Book a same day appointment from anywhere.

Step 2: Visit with a doctor on your smartphone

Step 2

Talk to your medical provider regarding your croup symptoms.

Visit with a doctor on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Step 3: pick up at local pharmacy

Step 3

Pick up a prescription for croup treatment.

We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.

Croup treatment pricing details

How pricing works

To request croup treatment and get a new or refill on your prescription, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits.

Paying with insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price with insurance

Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!

  • We accept these insurance plans and many more:

    • Humana
    • Aetna
    • Cigna

Paying without insurance



First month free



30 days of free membership

  • Same-day appointments 7 days a week

  • Unlimited messages with your Care Team

  • Prescription discount card to save up to 80%

  • Exclusive discounts on lab tests

  • Free memberships for your family

  • Cancel anytime

Visit price without insurance

Initial visits are $129.

Book an appointment

If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.

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PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.