Prednisone for Croup??

Updated on January 31, 2012
S.E. asks from Chicago, IL
15 answers

Hi Moms,
My 5 year old has a history of respiratory infections (pneumonia, croup) and currently has a relatively mild case of croup. She has the cough but is in great spirits with tons of energy. A little rough at night at times, but ok by day except for the cough and swollen/sore tonsils. The doctor has prescribed the steroid prednisone for up to 5 days and I'm just wondering if any of you have gone this route. I've looked online and steroids are used to treat croup pretty routinely, though more commonly in severe cases. As I understand it, the benefits are: decreases swelling and improves symptoms quickly; prevents symptoms from getting worse, lessening the chance of another trip to the Dr. The downside is that it's a steroid! Some websites mentioned that steroids decrease your immune response and can make it harder to fight infections. That worries me as I don't want her to catch the next thing at school because we wanted to lessen her symptoms now. Croup usually resolves in 4-7 days on its own anyway. So I'm torn. The doctor was new to us and while I think she was very good, she was very aggressive with drugs, very traditional, and I couldn't get a sense of whether the steroid was really necessary. She gave us the RX and said we could decide. Any advice?

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for all the great advice and insight. After much thought and research (taken with a grain of salt), I decided to fill the Rx and give her one dose. The doctor said that might be all she needs and I have my fingers crossed that's the case. So far, so good. I really appreciate everyone's stories and support -- thanks so much to all who responded.

Featured Answers



answers from Colorado Springs on

My kids are always prescribed prednisolone for croup. I always fill the prescription but only use it if I feel highly concerned and the shower steam and outside cold air aren't helping. Basically I keep it as a last resort. My kids are very prone to hte croup and we've had a few ambulance rides, so it's nice to have it on hand for the times it gets really bad!

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answers from Indianapolis on

Prednisone is a very common treatment for several different conditions - including croup. My question is whether it was prescribed by the pediatrician or if you've been referred to a pulmonologist because of her personal history with respiratory infections.

I found the following information through the American Academy of Pediatrics' Parenting website about using steroids for croup:

There's nothing wrong with the use of steroids. We all know what happened when athletes used them incorrectly, but steroids are a naturally occurring hormones for which medical uses have been developed (as well as illicit uses).

Good luck - I'd personally get the prescription filled. I have a little more insight because of my educational background and profession, but I'd not give it a second thought personally.



answers from Peoria on

I would be very careful about taking any kind of steroid. I was prescribed prednisone a few years back and sure it helped...while I was on it...the only problem was my illness came back worse than ever when my prescription ran out! Steroids do shut down your immune system and you'll pay for it later. I know I wouldn't want to give it to my children after what I experienced.



answers from Detroit on

My kids have had to use steroids and it helps alot. I opens up there small airways and makes breathing easier. The croupy sound is because the airway is swollen. I used steroids and never had a problem with them. I found it to be a life saver and my kids were more comfortable and happy. Taking them outside in the cold air also helps open up the airway and helps at night if they cannot sleep. Also popsicles are good too.



answers from San Francisco on

Both our kids ended up with croup a couple of months ago at separate times. We were much better prepared with the 2nd time. Our son was pretty bad by the time he was able to get into the doctor. She have him a shot of a steriod that started with a d. That was all the steroid he got. It was the end of the day and she sent us to ER for him to be watched. A couple hours later and we were released. They told us to us a humidifier in the house/his room and if the cough gets bad expose him to cold air (outside or open the freezer). It was the cold air exposure from the doc office to ER along with the shot that got it under control so quickly. With our daughter, she wasn't nearly as bad but I picked her up from daycare and heard the cough. Urgent care didn't have any treatment for croup so back to the ER we went, she got an oral steroid and then we did the same for her.

Since your daughter gets it more frequently and it's a mild case, try the humidifier, we also boiled water on the stove, and regularly expose her to the cold air, especially at night since croup gets worse at night. If you do this, hopefully she won't have to go to the doc and hopefully she can avoid the steroids. I would want to keep her immune system up too.



answers from Columbus on

Prednisone is pretty harsh. I personally would ask for an alternative.



answers from Charlotte on

I guess if you hadn't mentioned your child's history of respiratory infections like pneumonia in addition to the croup, I'd say to fill the script and then use it only if you really needed to. But the fact that your child has a propensity to have lung problems makes me worry about not using the prednisone. Anne A. has some really good points - if a child has lungs that are frequently compromised, she most likely needs the medicine. Hopefully as she grows older, these infections will eventually stop.

All my best,



answers from Colorado Springs on

My kids are always prescribed prednisolone for croup. I always fill the prescription but only use it if I feel highly concerned and the shower steam and outside cold air aren't helping. Basically I keep it as a last resort. My kids are very prone to hte croup and we've had a few ambulance rides, so it's nice to have it on hand for the times it gets really bad!



answers from Omaha on

Hi! My daughter ends up with croup in the spring in the fall with the seasonal change- or if the weather dramatically changes (example- we had a week of low teen temps and snow- then suddenly the weather changed to a 70 degree day in January). You are right about the steroid. It is a scary thought, but for short-term treatability it can be vital to the recovery of your child. My little one first got croup when she was 4 months old- with the stridor sound and air-way block within 24 hours of a runny nose and cough. Without the steroid and the nebulizer- she might not be here today- we ended up in the hospital after being sent home TWICE from the doc office and once from the ER only to find out the hospital was full of croupy babies.

Prednisone is effective at targeting the specifity of respiratory inflammation and distress. That is why they use it in most cases to keep that airway open because with out oxygen- it is also impossible for the body to heal. I am pretty much a naturalist and use homeopathics more than over the counter or perscriptions, but when it comes to your childs airway being open- modern medicine has its place and why wait for the infection to get worse and spread? If your little one is struggling to breath or you notice the first signs of croup, a short term steroid and antibiotic are in his/her best interests.



answers from Chicago on

If your daughter is having trouble breathing and has a history of this sort of thing I feel the prednisone is in order. If she takes it now along with maybe some neb treatments she may avoid this cough/croup going to pneumonia. The steroid is not going to cause her any longterm ill effects in this short of dosage, I would definitely give it to her if it was me.

By the way--do yourself a favor and stop reading websites to get medical information like webmd and such! It will only scare you. Long term use of steroids can in some cases cause harm, but this is not the case for your daughter. Personally I would trust the advice of a doctor that has been through med school, treats hundreds of patients, and has physically examined your daughter before I would take the advice of some anonymous web posting that has never met your kid, just my 2 cents...,. There is nothing wrong with doing research so you are informed, but you can't trust everything you read.


answers from Denver on

Our daughter also received a Rx for prednisone when she had croup, although it was for fewer days - I think 2 or 3 days only. I understand your concern... if other treatments are enough that your daughter can get through without it, then I can understand holding off. If your daughter is really having a hard time at night, then you might want to use the medication for a night or two, to help her get through and to help her from getting worse. I don't think she'll have adverse immune effects from just a day or two of using it - that kind of systemic effect happens with longer term use.
You probably know this already, but a humidifier is very helpful.



answers from Greensboro on

Hi SE,

Avoid it like the plague. I was a kid on prednisone and I am paying dearly for it now. One week on steroids does as much damage to bone density as a woman going thru menopause. You don't want an active 5 year old to have decreased bone mass. This particular steroid is very addictive and painful to come off of. It creates almost manical behavior if not weaned appropriately. You're right it also does decrease your immune system. I was a very sickly kid and I know now why.

If you have any other option, use it. I personally would go to the health store and talk to one of the folks there. Most are well trained in good stores and some stores even have an ND on staff.

God bless!



answers from Boston on

when my daughter was 4 months old the doctor put her on predisone for broncitis. the predisone helps reduce inflamation for the other medication to work. if used for short term it has greater benefits then most realize. laura was right...reading website like webmd and what not can scare you. they are strictly to help inform you so you can make the best decision available or to ask questions based on the information you had read. i also feel the doctor was trying to head off a possible worse infection. like you said your 5 yr old has had past boughts with respiratory infections like pneumonia. if the inflamation doesnt come down enough to help the lungs get rid of the mucus then croup can become worse in some cases.



answers from Yakima on

I am a mom of three all of which have had croup- The first two were twins which both had croup from time to time. Two of my kids have had very severe croup. I have come to depend in predisone to keep my kids safe. I always use the humidifier and nebulizer meds before, but if it persists go for the shorter dose of prednisone. Usually after the first dose everyone has a good night sleep. I used to try to avoid Prednisoe with the twins until one had to have a couple injections of epinepherine in the ER. I didn't realize how life threatening croup can be until they told me the childs air way is actually closing. Now I find the shorter dose of Predinisone avoids the longer dose needed if I wait too long. Child struggling to breathe is not a time for homeopathic remedies in my opinion. Anyone that suggests that has not watched their child struggling for air.



answers from Tulsa on

I had a period of time about a year ago where I suddenly started having breathing issues. I had croup as a child often so I wasn't too worried but it kept getting worse. I went to the ER and the Doc gave me a shot of steroids in the arm and within minutes I was feeling so much better. I took on oral steroid for about a week along with Albuterol in a nebulizer and antobiotics. I didn't have any issues with the meds and when they were gone I was okay.

I fell off my deck onto a planter several years ago and ruptured a disk in my neck, I was having extreme pain and they wanted to do emergency surgery but I had no insurance so I couldn't do it. My doc gave me the strongest Medrol pack avail. Then he had me take another one a few weeks later, all the symptoms reduced and it's livable now but I gained over 75 lbs. There are effects sometimes but the alternative was not acceptable.


answers from Portland on

I highly recommend seeking an alternative recommendation from a Naturopath/ Herbalist/ or Acupuncturist. These people have also been through rigorous Med school and will have lots of gentle, effective treatments. ( I live in Portland, where it is a mecca for these healers) but I am sure Chicago offers this medicine too.
Good luck.

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