Glucocorticoids for Croup

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Glucocorticoids for Croup

Topic Overview

Glucocorticoid medicines decrease inflammation and swelling in the body. In children with croup symptoms, two types of glucocorticoids are frequently used: dexamethasone and budesonide (Pulmicort). In Canada, budesonide is rarely used to treat croup.

  • Dexamethasone may be given either orally or by injection into the muscle (IM). Although one dose may be all that is needed, your child may be given a few more doses to take by mouth at home.
  • Budesonide is given by nebulizer.

Glucocorticoids have been shown to work well for children who have croup symptoms. Children usually get relief within 6 hours of having the medicine. And serious side effects are rare when one dose is given. Children who receive glucocorticoids spend less time in the hospital or emergency room and need fewer other treatments than those who don't receive them.1

Related Information



  1. Russell K, et al. (2004). Glucocorticoids for croup (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1). Oxford: Update Software.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised July 26, 2010

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