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Stopping Stridor with Steam

Not much more frightening then when your 4-year old shows up at your bedside in the middle of the night painfully wheezing for air with a barky cough. Stridor, or difficult, raspy breathing can be a sign of croup, or it may just be an individual occurrence due to breathing dry air. Luckily, you can avoid a trip to the emergency room with a few simple actions.

The problem with stridor and croup is that they gets worse when the child panics, but not being able to breathe is so scary that panic comes with the territory. The cure has to be two-pronged: warm the airway and calm the panic.

I scooped my daughter up and flew into the bathroom where I ran the shower as hot as it would go and let the tub fill. I sat on the edge of the tub with her in my lap and closed the curtain around us to create a steam tent. The warm, humid air relaxed her throat and opened her airway. The lulling sound of the shower calmed her panic and allowed her to settle down and nestle into me. We stayed in the steam about 10 minutes, until the moist air relaxed her throat and she started to snooze.

Just the day before my son had asked me to turn on his humidifier for the winter and I had responded that as soon as I clean it out I’d turn it on. Of course, that hadn’t happened in time to prevent this episode.

As it happened, I had to replace the humidifier in my daughter’s room anyway as the old one was leaking. I really liked the one we had because it allows you to set the steam temp to cold or warm, and uses uv light to purify the water. I felt lucky to have found this Slant Fin GF-211D 2.4 Gallon Germ-Free Warm-Mist Humidifier for less than half what I had paid for the first one 4 years ago

If the steam bath doesn’t work to stop the stridor, the next option is to bundle up and go outside to breathe the cool air. This can help stop the attack, too.

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