Croup Vs Whooping Cough

Croup vs whooping cough explained

Croup vs whooping cough: both are medical conditions found most commonly in children. Even though they seem similar, they're completely different in various ways.

What is croup?

Croup is an acute bacterial or a viral infection that usually affects the trachea, bronchi, and larynx which results in blockage of the upper airway. Eventually, a person starts experiencing labored breathing. And as the airway narrows due to swelling, much more severe coughs somewhat manage to push air out of the constricted airway.

Because of this, the swollen larynx (voice box) relays a dry, barking sound in a patient. Also, a high-pitched whistling sound upon inhalation is frequent among patients with croup.

What is a whooping cough?

On the other hand, whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Many years ago, it was a very common childhood condition. However, after the formation of vaccines, the mortality and morbidity rates and status of this particular disease have dramatically dropped.

Nowadays, it usually attacks younger children that haven't acquired a vaccination or adults and teenagers whose immune systems are severely overwhelmed with illness.

Croup vs a whooping cough

Croup vs whooping cough: So what's the major difference between a croup and whooping cough? Although both of these diseases affect mostly kids, they're far from being similar in any way.

First of all, croup's other name is laryngotracheobronchitis, whereas that of a whooping cough is pertussis. Second, they're both respiratory diseases spread by different kinds of infections. Parainfluenza virus is what causes croup, while Bordetella Pertussis usually spreads a whooping cough.

The level of infection also greatly varies. Essentially, both conditions affect the larynx and bronchi. But the subtle difference is that croup transmits infection in the trachea or windpipe, while a whooping cough further progresses toward the lungs.

It's easier to identify and treat croup at an early stage. Many times, croup follows a common cold which is characterized by a deep, dry cough resembling the bark of a seal. The cough becomes much more severe at night and is aggravated by anxiety and crying. Moreover, episodes of labored breathing, fever, and a hoarse voice are frequent symptoms of croup.

On the other hand, whooping cough signs and symptoms are difficult to diagnose. This is because they appear like common colds in the first 10 days. Many times, it begins with a runny nose, fever, cough, and nasal blockage. The more the infection spreads, the more the symptoms worsen. And within the first two weeks, the patient develops fatigue, and their face has a bluish or reddish discoloration from the disease. Also, series of vomiting and a hacking cough may follow next which sounds more like a whooping sound. All the same, infants may not cough at all, and they may involuntarily stop breathing. This condition is known as apnea and can become lethal if immediate medical assistance isn't provided.

And finally, since a whooping cough is a killer disease, kids are recommended to complete their pertussis booster shot and DTaP vaccination as a preventive measure. At the same time, further spread of croup can be controlled by finishing immunizations that boost a patient's immune system.

Summary of croup vs whooping cough

Croup is a descriptive medical term dubbed from the cough's sound, which is much more similar to the bark of a seal. Croup may or may not always follow a cough or a common cold. And it mostly affects children around six months and six years old, depending on the size of a child's upper airway. Although teenagers and adults can catch a croup, they don't experience the same symptoms found in young children. This difference occurs mainly because their airway is bigger in size.

Also known as pertussis, a whooping is characterized by a hacking cough, which is in turn followed by a high-pitched breathing sound that's similar to a "whoop." Since the air passageway of adults is bigger in size, they hardly bear the same symptoms small kids acquire.

More importantly, the treatment for croup and whooping cough vary greatly. Patients with a whooping cough are recommended to take prescribed antibiotics. Those with croup may try steroid shots or stream treatment, depending on the classic appearance of the disease.

Last Reviewed:
July 25, 2017
Last Updated:
October 25, 2017
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