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Epiglottitis denotes a serious inflammation of a body part called epiglottis. This part is basically the flap in the throat situated at the gateway to larynx. This flap is responsible for preventing the swallowed food from going to a person’s windpipe. This flap when swelled can create a problem in breathing procedure. This severe infection of the throat organ can bring fatal consequences as it can shut off the windpipe. It needs to be treated in time.

During the period of infection, the flap named epiglottis swells fast, and hence obstructs the entry of air into the lungs of the affected person. This is considered as a medical emergency and timely intervention is needed to save the life of the patient. In this ailment unless immediate precaution is taken it can prove to be fatal.

Causes of Epiglottitis

The disease is mainly caused by bacterial infection to the epiglottis organ. The most common bacteria responsible for this disease are Haemophilus influenzae type B and Streptococcus pyogenes among others. As a matter of fact, this disease is mostly observed in the children. Particularly the children who fall between 2 to 7 years are most vulnerable to this ailment. It is quite rare in the adult population but in some cases they also become its victims.

Symptoms of Epiglottitis

This disease mainly affects the children and its prominent symptoms are fever and hardship in swallowing foods. The afflicted children look seriously ill and face difficulty in breathing. They want to sit up in the bed. The symptoms can surface all of a sudden and when it so happens a medical practitioner needs to be contacted at once. The children also complain of a sore throat and they find it painful even to speak or eat anything. The breathing of the afflicted children becomes noisier with time as the disease progresses. They find it more difficult to inhale or exhale after some time. The lips and tongue of an affected child can appear to be blue if he/she is suffering from this malaise.

Treatment of Epiglottitis

This disease requires the blockage in the air passage of the child to be removed on a quick basis. This is a task that should be done under the guidance of a respiratory therapist or veteran anesthesiologist.

A child affected with Epiglottitis requires urgent medical help to recover. Therefore, an affected child needs to be hospitalized as soon as possible. After his or her admission to the hospital, the doctors can perform a through diagnosis and recommend medication. In some cases, the doctors administer local anesthesia to an afflicted child and thereafter put in a tube in the child’s windpipe.

This is done to keep the air passage open so that the oxygen can reach the lungs and breathing procedure can continue in an uninterrupted fashion. In the majority of the cases, the doctors insist on taking an X-ray of the child. Some blood tests are also required to detect the existence of the haemophilus influenzae bacteria.

Apart from these steps, antibiotic medication is given to a patient by intravenous means. The most effective anti biotic drugs that are used include chloramphenicol and ceftriaxone. They can be applied jointly with penicillin in some of the instances. The affected child may also be given humidified oxygen to facilitate breathing. If the disease is detected early and prompt treatment is given, the children do not take much time to recover. The usual recovery period is 2 to 3 days.


The bacteria that cause the disease can infect others, so the persons in close proximity of the affected child should also take antibiotic medication. If the parents see that their child has got a sore threat and finds it hard to breath, they should arrange for medical check up without delay.

Epiglottitis is a disease which requires professional medical care. Therefore, the parents of the child should not try to treat the child on their own. Inserting something like a spatula in the mouth of the child is strictly prohibited, as it can bring death instantly by blocking the air passage and causing airway spasm.

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