Croup in Adults

Croup is a type of infection found in your windpipe (trachea) and voice box (larynx). In cases with children, it is usually mild, and most children will recover soon. In severe cases, serious difficulties in breathing may develop. Some people with croup may be admitted to a hospital for treatment, until their symptoms ease. Croup can be brought on by severe viruses.

Croup in adults is a problem with the upper respiratory system, which results in breathing problems and coughing. It isn’t common in adults, so it’s not as easily diagnosed. You need to understand the warning signs and symptoms.

The reason for the barking cough of croup is inflammation around the bronchial tubes or bronchi, along with the trachea and larynx. The vocal cords swell, which produces the cough that sounds like a seal barking. When you breathe in while suffering from croup, it will produce a high-pitched stridor, or whistling sound.

Croup in adults is uncommon, since it usually occurs in children. If you have croup, do not neglect your body – get it treated.


Croup Symptoms in Adults

Children aged one to three years are most commonly diagnosed with croup. When children grow, their breathing tube will become firmer and wider. That’s why the chance for croup decreases after the age of six. However, children less than 15 years of age and more rarely, adults, can be affected by croup, as well.

Autumn and winter are busy seasons for croup. If one person in your family has croup, you face a risk of 15% that someone else in the family will get it.

With croup in adults, you will generally sense the beginning of an upper respiratory infection during the 2-4 day incubation period. You may also have a mild cough and low-grade fever.

Later, as the disease progresses, you may have red patches on the skin, and inflammation that results in your coughing. It is a harsh, barking cough, typical of the disease. Although your vocal cords swell, and may create hoarseness, your swallowing will usually stay unaffected. Croup in adults makes you feel worse at night, so consult with your physician during scheduled office hours if you don’t want to make an emergency room trip during the night.

Here’s a VIDEO of what Croup in adults generally sounds like. One adult croup patient will elaborate on the way it makes you feel.

What are the main Causes of Croup in Adults?

Adult croup is usually caused by a para-influenza virus. If you breathe infected droplets that someone with croup has coughed or sneezed into the air, you may contract this disease. Particles of the croup virus found in air-borne droplets are still potent, even after they contact surfaces like desks, tables or countertops.

Preventing Croup

Croup is contagious and infectious, like other viral infections. This means there is a risk of passing it to others, especially if you are close to people.

Preventative measures used to prevent influenza and the common cold are also helpful in preventing croup, since they are both transmittable respiratory diseases. Regularly washing your hands and keeping your fingers away from your mouth and nose will help to prevent catching croup. Any tissues that could be infected should be considered to be infectious, and not handled by others.

Treating Croup in Adults

Even though croup is usually mild, it can sometimes become more serious, and require additional medical treatments. You should remain calm when you have a coughing episode with croup. If you panic, that only makes the coughing worse. The use of steam from a vaporizer or hot shower can relieve the congestion somewhat.

If you believe that you are suffering from croup, consult your physician immediately, to prevent worsening, and speed healing with proper treatment.

Previous articleLow Estrogen
Next articleHigh TSH


  1. I’m an adult with croup that has been going on for 3 and a half weeks. I do have a low immune response because of various ill health problems, but how long can I expect this to last? I’m having regular asthma attacks with it, though they do ease with use of my ventolin inhaler.

    • You will want to speak with a medical professional about your questions. They will have your medical history and can ask you questions specific to your situation. This is your best option, and it will help you reduce symptoms more safely. Make an appointment at this time. Best of luck, Vicky!

  2. I’m 46 years old and have been diagnosed with croup every year for the past 5-6 years. Is that possible, or do think I’m being mis-diagnosed?

    • It is possible that you are being misdiagnosed. You may want to speak with another doctor. Another doctor will be able to give you a second look. Best of luck, Kelly!

Leave a Reply to Kelly Hobbs Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here