Epiglottitis is a potentially life-threatening disease characterized by swelling and inflammation of the epiglottis leading to obstructed airflow to the lungs. Epiglottis is a cartilage flap at the base of the tongue and covers the windpipe. It functions as a valve, preventing food and fluids from entering the food pipe. Epiglottitis requires immediate medical attention, prompt diagnosis, and treatment. Different factors are responsible for causing swollen epiglottis in children resulting from epiglottitis, including injury to the throat, burns from hot liquids, or smoking. The most common reason behind an infected pediatric epiglottis is a bacterial infection caused by Hib bacteria.
The epiglottis, a flap-like tissue present at the back of the throat, prevents food and liquids from entering the windpipe while swallowing. In rare conditions, the epiglottis gets infected, usually by a bacteria, causing a severe infection called Epiglottitis.
Epiglottitis or Supraglottitis, is an inflammation of structures present above the glottis, most commonly caused by Hib bacterial infection. The common site of swelling during this condition is the epiglottis. However, epiglottitis can also affect structures including arytenoid soft tissues and, sometimes, the uvula.
Epiglottitis should not be confused with visible epiglottis in children, which is a rare anatomical condition, usually asymptomatic without any medical intervention. Epiglottitis in kids is a life-threatening condition because swollen epiglottis can block the windpipe and cause disturbances in normal breathing.
Other causes of epiglottitis include:
Epiglottitis can happen to anyone; however, there are several factors that increase the risk of developing the infection in epiglottis in a child’s throat. The factors include:
Symptoms of epiglottitis are common regardless of the reason. The symptoms of epiglottitis develop pretty fast in children, within an hour. For adults, signs and symptoms are almost similar but may develop more slowly, over days rather than hours. The most common symptoms of epiglottitis in infants and children are:
Epiglottitis is a severe condition and requires medical attention. If suspected, one should always consult a doctor. There should be no attempt to inspect the throat of anyone suspected of having epiglottitis at home. To support the diagnosis, the doctor may ask to go for any of the following tests:
Acute epiglottitis in children can lead to several complications such as swollen epiglottis and surrounding tissues. Acute issues also lead to airway obstruction, which can lead to respiratory arrest and death from hypoxia. Other common complications are the following:
Epiglottitis is a medical emergency condition as inflammation or swelling in epiglottis can restrict oxygen flow into the lungs. Seek immediate medical supervision if a child is suspected of having epiglottitis. While waiting for medical care, do not attempt to examine the child’s throat or place anything in their mouth, and don’t lay them on their back as this may worsen the symptoms. Be calm and try not to panic or cause distress around the patient. An individual should directly contact the emergency medical service if the following symptoms and signs are present:
Epiglottitis is a serious life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention and care. When suspected of having epiglottitis, a person should be immediately taken to a doctor, especially children with acute respiratory issues such as asthma. With early diagnosis and in-time treatment, a person with epiglottitis condition can recover quite well. But when neglected, and the individual is not taken to hospital on time, not diagnosed appropriately, there is a risk of prolonged physical handicap or even death.
Proper Hib vaccination largely prevents the occurrence of epiglottitis, but if contracted, the condition remains worrisome. If you or anyone in your family shows the symptoms of epiglottitis, seek immediate emergency help. With prompt diagnosis, extensive treatment, and care, life-threatening complications arising from epiglottitis can be avoided.
This post was last modified on July 21, 2021 7:20 pm
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