Croup During Pregnancy - 5 Causes & 7 Symptoms You Should Be Aware of

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Contracting croup during pregnancy may result in more serious symptoms than when contracted at other times. Coughing and breathing difficulties at night are some common symptoms of croup. It is caused by the parainfluenza virus and results in inflammation of the larynx (vocal cords), bronchi, and trachea (windpipe).

Barking cough, which sounds similar to barking, is often seen in croup. This sound is produced when air is forcefully expelled while coughing through the airways narrowed by inflammation. It may also result in whistling sounds while you inhale (1).

Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for croup during pregnancy.

What Is Croup?

Croup is a respiratory infection that causes difficulty in breathing and a cough that sounds like barking. While suffering from this condition, the area around your vocal cords (larynx), bronchial tubes (bronchi) and windpipe (trachea) becomes inflamed. As you cough, air is forced out through this passage that becomes narrow due to the swelling and your vocal cords produce a barking-like noise. Similarly, you may notice a whistling or wheezing like sound when you inhale (1).

Croup And Pregnancy

Here are some causes of croup during pregnancy (2):

  • The most common cause of croup is a viral infection. You may have inhaled the virus in the contaminated air.
  • You may suffer from croup in case of inflammation of the epiglottitis (it is the flap at the base of your tongue that prevents food from getting into the windpipe).
  • You may develop croup if you have accidentally inhaled chemicals and your throat and air passages get irritated.
  • Sometimes, croup can also be due to acid reflux.
  • If you are allergic to environmental elements like pollen or dust mites, you can develop croup when you accidentally inhale them.

What Are The Symptoms Of Croup?

The symptoms of croup will vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some of the most common symptoms of croup are (3):

  • A persistent coughing that sounds like the barking of a seal.
  • A whistling sound every time you take a deep breath.
  • Pain or soreness in the throat.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Blocked or stuffy nose.
  • Mild or high temperature.
  • Runny nose.

Immediately seek medical help if:

  • You notice a high pitched sound both while inhaling and exhaling.
  • If you drool or experience difficulty in swallowing.
  • In case you feel excessively anxious or tired.
  • If you find it difficult to breathe.
  • If the skin around your nose, fingernails or mouth starts turning blue or grayish (3).

How To Treat Croup During Pregnancy?

While you are pregnant, your doctor will try and avoid all possible medication or procedures that may harm your unborn baby or you. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor will suggest the following treatment (4):

  • Your doctor may prescribe a mild pain relief medication to reduce the discomfort. Make sure you check with your doctor that this medication is safe for use during pregnancy.
  • Speak to your doctor about the various liquids you can and should consume to ease the condition.
  • In some cases, you may require an oxygen mask to ensure both you and your baby get adequate oxygen. Your doctor will recommend this if he notices any difficulty in your breathing.
  • You may be advised to take steam inhalation or saline gargles.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is croup the same as whooping cough?

Whooping cough and croup are two different infections. While the parainfluenza virus causes croup, whooping cough is a bacterial infection.

2. What can be mistaken for croup?

The symptoms of croup can be mistaken for several other severe conditions. Epiglottitis (swelling of the tissue protecting the windpipe), laryngomalacia, diphtheria, and peritonsillar abscesses (infection in tonsils) are a few conditions that could be mistaken for croup (5).

3. How long is croup contagious?

Croup is contagious as long as the symptoms persist. The child might be contagious for up to three days after the infection is gone (6).

Viral infection by parainfluenza virus is the leading cause of barking cough or croup during pregnancy. The cough occurs due to inflammation in the airways and may also cause wheezing during inhalation. Inhaling chemicals or pollutants or acid reflux may also trigger croup. Associated symptoms may include sore throat, breathing difficulties, and runny nose. The condition is treatable, and medications, oxygen support, or saline gargles may be advised depending on its severity. Avoid waiting until symptoms turn severe, and consult a doctor the moment you feel any discomfort or pain.


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shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs from the University of Mumbai. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health... more

Dr. Prachi Benara

Dr. Prachi Benara has over a decade of experience as an infertility specialist. Having done her graduation and postgraduation in India, Dr. Prachi trained in reproductive medicine and IVF in the UK. In addition to a one-year PG diploma, she worked as an observer in the Oxford University Hospitals and trained in IUI, ultrasound, and embryo transfer at the British... more