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Epiglottitis

What is Epiglottitis?

Epiglottitis is an acute, severe, and very dangerous infection of the epiglottis and the area around the voicebox (larynx). The epiglottis is the flap of tissue that closes off the larynx when one swallows. Epiglottitis is also called supraglottitis.

The occurrence of epiglottis has decreased steadily since Haemophilus influenza group b (Hib) vaccine became a routine childhood immunization in the late 1980s.

If you believe you have epiglottis, call 911 or visit a doctor immediately. Epiglottitis is a medical emergency.

Epiglottitis usually occurs in children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old.

Symptoms of Epiglottitis

There are many symptoms. The most common symptoms are:

What Causes Epiglottitis?

The most common cause of epiglottitis is infection with the bacteria called Haemophilus influenza type b, also called HIB.

Epiglottis can also be caused by other types of bacteria including some types of Streptococcus bacteria and the bacteria responsible for causing diphtheria.

The bacterial infection that causes epiglottitis is contagious.

Treatment of Epiglottitis

Epiglottitis can be treated. If proper treatment is given, the patient can fully recover. Some of the treatment options are:

  • Administration of humidified oxygen. Oxygen will help the patient breathe.
  • Intravenous fluids. Intravenous fluids are given to increase hydration.
  • Antibiotics to treat the infection.
  • Corticosteroids to decrease the swelling of the throat.

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