CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – With pediatric coronavirus cases on the rise, doctors are warning parents about the spike in children being diagnosed with croup. Croup is an upper airway infection that blocks breathing and causes an intense cough.

“Your airway is like a straw and when you get inflammation it closes down a little bit,” said Dr. Maureen Ahmann, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “So there is increased turbulence of airflow through that straw so you hear a high pitch ‘huuuu’ type of thing and kids get a seal like cough. It’s like listening to the seals at the zoo.”

Dr. Ahmann says this really affects children three and under and can show up out of nowhere.

“Typically, with croup they will wake up suddenly in the night or early hours of morning with this cough and it comes on pretty quickly,” said Dr. Ahmann.

If you see that your child is struggling with croup, Dr. Ahmann says to take them outside. The cold air will help with the inflammation. She says you can also bring them in the bathroom and crank up a hot shower. Breathing the steaming air will help, too. Most importantly make sure you and your child stay calm.

“This is one illness where the child being upset will make it worse,” said Dr. Ahmann. “It makes the airway clamp down more.”

If your child comes down with croup doctors recommend giving them warm clear liquids to drink. Have them drink honey if they’re over the age of one. Also, put a cool mist humidifier in their bedroom.

The Cleveland Clinic didn’t see this as big of a problem last year when more children were virtual and there was more social distancing. However, Dr. Ahmann says it is preventable. She says wearing masks and vaccinating those old enough will help protect the little ones.

“The children who are vaccinated are not as sick as those who are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Ahmann. “We know that vaccines work. If your child is age five or up, please contact your health provider and get your child vaccinated.”