Saturday, October 15, 2011

Caring for Children with Croup

Probably one of the childhood illnesses I dislike the most is croup. I think it's because it's worse at night which means no one gets good rest and that's exactly what the body needs. Currently all three of our boys have a great case of it and since it's a viral infection, one must be patient and wait it out. Anyhow - since we've been through this many times before I thought I'd share some tips that I've learned from my pediatricians and by trial and error.

Fluids -The important thing for any illness is to keep hydrated. Each of my guys have a different colored sippy cup  which helps keep each person's germs to themselves. Keep them filled with something they will drink (but not something sugary) - juice diluted with water, Gatorade, etc. Keep plenty of Popsicles on hand (Eddy's has a fruit pop that has no added sugar - expensive but good!)

Fever - Though bothersome - fevers were designed to kill germs. A low grade fever is actually good and should not be stopped. My person rule of thumb is - no medication until 102.0. I have one child who hallucinates and another who has seizures above this and so that's my point for meds. If their fever is above 101.5 before bedtime I also give them something to help them through the night (usually Advil or Motrin since it lasts longer). If it's really a bugger of a fever and stays high for a long time (over 24 hours) then I alternate Tylenol and Motrin.

Rest - Here's where it gets difficult! Croupy kids need rest! But they start feeling better and then want to be up jumping and playing and the next thing you know, they crash. It's pretty crucial they stay still. Mr. Potato Head, puzzles, books from the library, Lego's, lacing activities, Melissa and Doug have nifty magnetic dress-up sets that are nice quiet toys.

Books on tape are fantastic! Check your local library. Stories (Patch the Pirate, Adventure's in Odessey, Your Story Hour) that are teaching while keeping them quiet are a double blessing. 

DVD's are also an option if you allow this. We're not big DVD people at all. Watching a DVD is a special occasion, not a normal occurrence. But when they are sick there are some that we let them watch. Pictures Proverbs is what they're watching right now. Its the book of Proverbs with a new picture for each verse. If you're children only watch DVD's occasionally and don't need a lot of action then these are great! And they pick up on the Scripture so quickly. Another one our guys like is the Visual Bible Matthew and Acts.(The John DVD is not very good) The man who plays Jesus is fantastic. (Just a warning - in the second DVD on Matthew, both Jesus and his disciples are shown shirtless in two scenes). The words are taken directly from the NIV - nothing deleted or added. My boys also enjoy the IMAX Deep Sea DVD. Another set we let them watch are the Moody Science DVDS, we have some of the DVD's from Showforth which are very good. And there are some good children's DVD's at Answers in Genesis also. Some of them you can watch here.  There are other handheld games and things that I know are out there but our guys don't have. The idea is - keep them playing quietly - no running around.

Breathing Treatments - There are all kinds of theories on this one but this is what I've found works best for us. Two or three times a day, I put the bathroom shower on fully hot and shut us in there for about 20 minutes. I take the liquid Vick's and mist it on the walls of the shower.
We slather their chests with Vicks (or for the smaller ones - Johnson and Johnson makes a milder version) and also put it on their feet and put socks on them. Then while the steam is working, they lay face down on my lap and with cupped hands I "thump" on their chest. As Allan puts it, "She steams us then thumps us!" This helps loosen the mucus and makes it easier for them to cough it out. Some people then rush the children out into the cooler air. I do this if it's really bad but not on a regular basis. I usually only do the steam during the day - because you usually get sleep deprived with croup - it's best to limit night care to the very minimum. I've found care throughout the day minimizes nighttime care.

At night, I sit the boys up on pillows to sleep. This helps them to not feel like they are suffocating. Night is always worse because the hormone that suppresses coughing is at it's lowest point. If they absolutely can't breathe, the we bundle up (put something on their head) and go outside and sit for awhile (if you live in a colder climate). Yesterday Stephen and I were rocking on the front porch at 4:00am listening to the trains (I'm amazed at the number of trains running in Cincinnati at 4:00 in the morning!)

Mommy Care -  this may be the most important part. Sick children need their mommy. This week a friend stopped by and one look at me said, "Are you drinking enough?" (My eyes were a little sunken) I was so busy filling sippy cups, cleaning up bathroom messes, and doing breathing treatments that I'd hardly had a chance to eat and drink myself. Here are some tips I've tried to follow:
  • Make sure I take my vitamins (an extra vitamin C wouldn't hurt). 
  • Drink plenty of fluids myself
  • Because I'm going to be doing night duty - sleep when my children sleep. I try to keep them quiet and naptime at a regular time. If they're not expending a lot of extra energy then they usually will take short naps and a regular nap. Sleep during their regular nap. 
  • Keep my schedule clear. Cancel appointments that can be rescheduled. Do the bare minimum with household chores. This allows me to care for their needs without feeling pushed and stressed.
Sometimes I wonder if God didn't design sickness to be a way of slowing us down and helping us to rest. I choose to view it as God's gift to me. It's extra time for snuggling and hugging and back-rubs and good stories that doesn't happen in concentrated form when we're well. 

The above was written on Wednesday. Last night everyone slept all night! Yeaaahhhhh! Now except for  the residual coughs and low-grade fevers I think we're through the worst of it. It actually was a blessings this week! I needed the slower pace and the release of pressure from my "to-do" list. I just took care of my family this week! And, if you're going to be up with one croupy child - might as well be three, if you're going to be making chicken noodle and corn soup for one..might as well be all! I celebrated this morning by going and getting everyone a Salted Carmel Mocha at Starbucks for Sweetest Day! Another 48 hours and we should no longer be housebound! 

Disclaimer: This is what I've learned after talking to my doctors and what I've found helps my children. It in no way takes the place of a proper diagnosis of an illness for your child. My children were seen by a doctor this time too (I wanted to make sure we weren't dealing with pneumonia) just to make sure it wasn't something more serious. 

1 comment:

knightfirstlady said...

Very interesting, Marianne. I can't say that our children have ever had croup, I guess. We've had brochitis, ear infections, etc., but not that apparently! Sounds like you're up on your research about it! Sharon