Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Croup and Humidity

From Forbes:

A time-honored treatment to ease the seal-like bark of croup is to bring your child into a steamy bathroom or run a cool-mist vaporizer in her room until symptoms subside.

However, a new study suggests that these measures probably won't have much effect on croup symptoms.

"The use of humidity failed to show any improvement in croup symptoms," said the study's lead author, Dr. Dennis Scolnik, an associate professor at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto in Canada.

Results of the study appear in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Croup, which is the swelling of the tissues around the voice box, is actually a response to a viral or bacterial infection rather than a distinct illness. Croup is characterized by a cough that often sounds like the bark of a seal. Sometimes, the inflammation can get so bad that it obstructs the airway.

Croup caused by viruses is one of the most common causes of upper airway blockage in youngsters, affecting as many as 5 percent of children under 6 years old, according to the study.

The idea behind the use of humidity is that the moisture would soothe the irritated airway and thin mucous secretions, making breathing easier. However, Scolnik said there's no good scientific evidence available to support the use of humidity.


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