Epiglottitis Symptoms & Causes

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What is epiglottitis?

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.

What causes epiglottitis?

Epiglottitis is a bacterial infection, which is spread through the upper respiratory tract. The bacteria is usually Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). No one really knows why some children develop the disease, while others don't.

Is epiglottitis common?

The Hib vaccine, recommended for infants at 2, 4, 6 and 15 to 18 months of age protects against this bacteria, making the condition very rare for infants.

What are the symptoms ofepiglottitis?

While symptoms may vary from child to child, the most common include:

  • upper respiratory infections
  • quick onset of a very sore throat
  • fever
  • muffled voice
  • no cough
  • drooling
  • unable to talk
  • child sits leaning forward
  • child keeps his mouth open

Can you prevent epiglottitis?

Epiglottitis caused by the bacteria Hib can be prevented with vaccines that start at the age of 2 months. Epiglottitis caused by other organisms can't be prevented at this time, but are much less common. Most people who get the Hib vaccine don't have any problems with it. Some minor problems may include:

  • redness, warmth or swelling in the location where the shot was given
  • fever
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