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Epiglottitis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the epiglottis — a small cartilage "lid" that covers your windpipe — swells, blocking the flow of air into your lungs. A number of factors can cause the epiglottis to swell — burns from hot liquids, direct injury to your throat, and various infections. The most common cause of epiglottitis is infection with Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), the same bacterium that causes pneumonia and meningitis.
Alternative Names of Epiglottitis are: acute supraglottitis, thermal epiglottitis, and peritonsillar abscess.
Complications of Epiglottitis
Causes of Epiglottitis
Conditions that cause epiglottitis include infectious, chemical, and traumatic agents. Infectious is the most common. H influenzae type b was once the most common cause prior to vaccination. Currently, other organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi are the causes, especially among adults.
Signs & Symptoms of Epiglottitis
Epiglottitis caused by Hib infection usually begins with a fever and severe sore throat. Symptoms of epiglottitis may develop within a matter of hours, including:
Diagnosis of Epiglottitis
Treatments of Epiglottitis
Prevention of Epiglottitis
Immunization with the Hib vaccine is an effective way to prevent epiglottitis in children younger than age 5. In the United States, children usually receive the vaccine in four doses:
The Hib vaccine is generally not given to children older than age 5 or to adults because they're less likely to develop Hib infection. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the vaccine for older children and adults whose immune systems have been weakened by:
When to seek Medical Advice
Epiglottitis is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know suddenly has trouble breathing and swallowing, call your local emergency number or go to the nearest hospital emergency department. Try to keep the person quiet and upright. Don't try to examine the person's throat yourself. This can make matters worse.
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