Fear of a Cough in the Night

There’s a certain cough, common among children under five, that can be particularly terrifying for parents. It sounds like a seal’s bark, and it’s a telltale sign that the child has croup, a virus that causes children’s airways to constrict.

It’s a cough that Libby knows well. Her son, now seven, struggled with respiratory problems from ages one and a half to five, and had what she calls “massive croup” all the time. Libby, a fortysomething woman in south Brooklyn who declined to give her last name to the Voice, spent countless nights with her son in the bathroom, the door shut and the hot water running in the shower, trying to create a steam bath to ease his coughing.

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