Epiglottitis:  Inflammation of the epiglottis that tends to cause airway obstruction, this disease typically strikes children between ages 2 and 8.  Epiglottitis sometimes follows an upper respiratory infection and may rapidly progress to complete upper airway obstruction within 2 to 5 hours.  An emergency, epiglottitis can prove fatal in &% to 12% of victims unless it's recognized and treated promptly.

Epiglottis:  the lid like cartilaginous structure overhanging the entrance to the larynx, guarding it during swallowing

Cause:  Usually, Hemophilus influenzae type B causes the disorder.  At times, pneumococci and Group A streptococci causes it.


Laryngeal obstruction

High fever

Stridor ( a harsh, high-pitched respiratory sound)

Sore throat

Difficulty swallowing

Dysphagia (impairment of speech)




Usually the child attempting to relieve severe respiratory distress may hyperextend his neck, sit up, and lean forward with his mouth open, tongue protruding, and nostrils flaring as he tries to breathe.


Emergency hospitalization

May require emergency endotracheal intubation or a tracheotomy

Respiratory distress that interferes with swallowing requires parenteral fluid administration to prevent dehydration

A patient with acute epiglottitis should always receive a 10 day course of parenteral antibiotics - usually ampicillin

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