Conditions + Treatments

Epiglottitis in Children

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Overview

Epiglottitis is a life-threatening bacterial infection that occurs when the epiglottis — a small piece of cartilage that covers the windpipe — swells, obstructing the flow of air into your child's lungs. At Boston Children's Hospital, the Division of Infectious Diseases provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care for this unusual infection.

  • The Hib vaccine, which prevents epiglottitis, has made this condition very rare.
  • Epiglottitis is very serious and requires immediate emergency treatment.
  • Epiglottitis usually occurs in children 2 to 8 years of age. 
  • Family and close contacts that have been exposed to a child with epiglottitis will also need to take an antibiotic.
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