Epiglottitis refers to a uncommon yet serious condition wherein the epiglottis, which is a flap of cartilage located close to the base of your tongue, becomes swollen or inflamed. This swelling prevents food and liquids from entering your trachea when you swallow.

Epiglottitis is most commonly caused by bacterial infections, most typically from the Haemophilus influenzae type B bacteria.


When someone has epiglottitis, they could have:

  • fever
  • discomfort and difficulties swallowing
  • drooling
  • a throaty or husky voice
  • high-pitched breathing noises known as stridor, particularly while inhaling
  • a very scratchy throat
  • cyanosis

Moreover, epiglottitis-afflicted children may not recognize parents or make eye contact.


Your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and do a physical exam. They may also order testing for epiglottitis. Tests may include:

  • Laryngoscopy: Your doctor examines your throat with a little camera on a flexible tube.
  • Culture tests: Your doctor swabs your throat for germs and viruses.
  • Blood tests: Your doctor may test your blood for bacteria, viruses, and white blood cells.
  • Imaging exams: X-rays and CT scans can evaluate edema and airway obstruction.

Furthermore, epiglottitis often has some of the same signs and symptoms as other illnesses, like croup. So, it’s important to find the right examination and treatment.


Epiglottitis is a serious medical problem. If you or someone you know is having trouble breathing, eating, getting hoarse, or drooling, you should go to the nearest emergency room right away. At the hospital, doctors will start treating epiglottitis by the following procedures:

  • They will clear your airways. Your doctor will give you an oxygen mask to breathe. They’ll put an oxygen tube down your neck if your airways are clogged. In extreme situations, a tracheostomy may be needed.
  • Once your lungs are getting air, your doctor may put a breathing tube through your nose and into your windpipe to make breathing feel more normal.
  • Your medical team will give you a lot of water through an intravenous (IV) drip, which is a needle put into a vein.
  • If you have an illness caused by infections, medications may be prescribed.

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