Germ Patrol: Remedies for 8 Common Winter Illnesses

Viral Croup

Chances your child will catch it: About 16 percent by the time she's 6.

Symptoms: This viral infection of the voice box and windpipe causes a barking, seal-like cough, stridor (a harsh, high-pitched noise when your child takes a breath), and hoarseness. All tend to be more severe at night.

Contagious? The viruses that cause croup in little kids are contagious, but older children and adults who are infected are likely to just get a cold.

Rx: Run a hot shower, and have your child sit in the steamy bathroom until his symptoms ease. Taking him outside into the cold air may be even more effective at stopping the cough. If it's warm out, simply open your freezer and have him breathe deeply, suggests Richard Judelsohn, MD, a pediatrician in Buffalo. Your doctor may prescribe steroids for serious cases.

You need to know: If your child seems to be having difficulty breathing or her ribs are pulling in and out with each breath, call your doctor or head for the ER right away.

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