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Omicron variant leading to respiratory illness croup

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 20:06:22-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — You know what a seal sounds like right? Almost like a cough but a lot louder and stronger. Well, it turns out croup can also sound like that.

Dr. Jaime Fergie, the director of infectious diseases at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, said croup is an upper respiratory illness caused by viruses like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

However, now the omicron variant is causing croup as well. But why wouldn’t other variants like the delta variant cause it? Fergie said it all has to do with where the virus affects. He said compared to the other variants, omicron, just like croup, affects the upper respiratory airway, and it usually affects kids.

“Their airways are smaller, so the smaller you are, the more likely it is that the little bit of inflammation on your airway is going to cause a little more compromise,” Fergie said.

He said not very many kids are coming in with croup to Driscoll Children’s Hospital. He said the majority of the patients with croup are babies with preexisting conditions.

However, he said there are treatments that are available to patients that need it. He said it can be treated with steroids and cortisone type of medication.

“Depending on how severe they are, they can receive a special type of breathing treatment that will make them feel better for a while,” Fergie said.

Dr. Lauren Sadovsky said while there are treatments for croup like steroids, you can also use a humidifier, but some people may want to use more natural remedies. She said it’s something that could be found in your kitchen cupboard.

“We use honey for our coughs. All the other products on the market are trying to get as thick as honey can,” she said.

Dr. Kim Onufrak said croup mostly affects the ages of babies that are 6 months to toddlers that are 3-years-old. She said the symptoms like a runny nose, congestion and the strong cough don’t typically last very long.