Laryngitis: What is Epiglottitis?

Laryngitis: What is Epiglottitis?

Epiglottitis is marked by swollen flesh in the epiglottis. It can be a fatal disease.

Epiglottis is located at the bottom of the tongue. Majority of its component is cartilage. It assists in stopping food from getting into the trachea.  The epiglottis’ flesh can get inflamed and close your wind pipe.  You need to visit the hospital immediately the inflammation occurs. Call 911 or look for immediate medical assistance if you suspect or your kid is suffering from epiglottitis,

Epiglottitis is rare, particularly in adults. Children are more vulnerable and they should be tested and treated immediately they show the symptoms. The swelling of the flesh is mainly caused by a bacterium called Haemophilusinfluenzae type b. Vaccines, for example, Hib vaccine, assists in keeping your kid safe from Haemophilusinfluenzae type b infection.

Laryngitis is a severe swelling of the voice box as a result of infections caused by bacteria and viruses; and allergic reactions.  

Laryngitis results in inflammation of larynx (voice box), making the air passage block.

Croup is a laryngitis that has a severe impact on the voice box, wind pipe, and lungs in children who are aged less than two years.

Serious laryngitis can result in a large swelling that can block the wind pipe and cause severe oxygen supply deficiency in kids who are in the age bracket of one to six years. This illness is known as epiglottitis.


Symptoms of epiglottitis

Although they can take longer to be serious in adults and older kids, epiglottitis symptoms normally progress fast and become more severe quickly although they can develop over a few days in older children and adults. The symptoms are:

  • a seriously dry and painful throat
  • Painful and problematic swallowing
  • Breathing difficulties (which get better when you bend forward)
  • Stridor (unusual breathing sounds that have high pitch)
  •  fever of at least  38C (100.4F)
  • Feeling irritated and restless
  • Difficulty in producing sound when talking
  • Dropping saliva uncontrollably

In young children, epiglottitis is mainly marked by breathing problems, abnormal breathing sounds and hoarseness of voice.

Major symptoms of epiglottitis in adults and more aged kids are painful and dry throat, swallowing problems and drooling.

Who are at Risk for Epiglottis?

Epiglottis can happen to anybody. But, there are several factors which increase the risk of developing it.



Mostly, epiglottis is developed in younger children. This being more likely in children below the age of 2 months. This is because they haven’t yet received the Hib vaccine which helps prevent epiglottis. Other than them children who live in countries where the vaccine is not available, are also prone to epiglottis.



The risk of getting epiglottis increases in crowded areas. This is because, the chances of catching germs of others and having an infection is highly possible.  Day care centers andschools may increase your and your child's exposure to bacteria, fungi and viruses.


It is observed that malesare more likely to develop epiglottis than females.

Weak immune system:

A weak immune system is unable to fight germs and bacteria. Poor immune system makes it easy for epiglottis to develop.


Diagnosis of epiglottis:

If you find any of the symptoms mentioned above, the first thing you do is visit your doctor. If your doctor feels that you have epiglottis, they’ll admit you in the hospital, where the further diagnosis will be conducted.

Throat examination:  A flexible laryngoscope, a long, thin flexible tube with a camera at the end may be used to diagnose the condition. The device is inserted into the patients mouth and down the throat, possibly with a local anesthetic to relieve the discomfort.


X- ray of your throat and chest to view the severity of the inflammation and infection.


A biopsy, which is a sample of epiglottis tissue, to test for infection.


Throat culture and blood tests: For the culture, the epiglottis is wiped with a cotton swab and the tissue sample is checked for Hib. Blood cultures are usually taken because bacteremia (a severe bloodstream infection) may accompany epiglottis.


Epiglottitis Treatment

Antibiotics are less often used and are only prescribed in case of suspicion of secondary infection.  Occasionally, oral steroids are administered decrease the inflammation. Air humidification (for instance steamy bathroom) is a possible treatment.

Calm your child from crying to prevent the symptoms become more severe. Administer paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat extreme body temperatures.  Assist your child breath better by keeping them upright.

Avoid cough drugs- they cause drowsiness


Acute Epiglottitis

It develops very fast and is popular in kids who are 1 to 6 years old. Acute epiglottitis affects only the upper part of the larynx. It occurs as a result of Haemphilusinfluenzae. In case the windpipe is blocked, kids must be admitted to hospital.


Medical Help

Epiglottitis needs immediate medical assistance by calling 999 for ambulance or go straight to hospital.

  • Calm your child to prevent the illness from becoming worse.
  • Speak lightly
  • Hold your kid upright - do not make him lie down
  • Humidify the air by steaming bathroom or kitchen air and closing all the windows and doors.  Ensure the kid breathes for not less than 15 minutes. This reduces the dehydration of the respiratory tract.


Fever treatment

Dress the child lightly and put a towel on his brow. Ensure that the room temperatures are not more than 19 or 20 degrees.

Avoid dehydration by making him drink some water frequently at an interval of approximately ten minutes. Don’t upset the child and assist in counteracting fever by administering paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Any medicine should be given upon doctor’s advice. If fever remains and other signs, for example, diarrhoea, stomach pains and vomiting show, look for medical attention.


If your epiglottis is related to an infection, intravenous antibiotics will be given once you or your child is getting enough air.

Broad spectrum antibiotics:  The treatment begins with a broad spectrum drug in case of emergency, where you cannot wait until the examination results arrive.

More targeted antibiotic: The drug may be changed later depending on what’s causing the epiglottis.