Numerous factors can cause the epiglottis to get inflamed, resulting in swelling of the epiglottis and obstruction of the airway. Causes include various infections or direct injury to the epiglottis. Epiglottitis can occur at any age. Some common causes of epiglottitis include:
- Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib): It is the most common cause of epiglottitis, especially in children. It spreads through droplet infection. Vaccination against Hib during infancy has made epiglottitis rare these days.
- Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus): It is a bacterium that can cause epiglottitis in adults, which can also cause meningitis, pneumonia, ear infections, and blood infections.
- Staphylococcus aureus: It is a bacterium that causes epiglottitis more commonly in adults than in children and skin infections and other diseases, including pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome.
What are the signs and symptoms of epiglottitis?
Symptoms in children: In children, signs and symptoms of epiglottitis may develop and worsen in a matter of hours, requiring immediate medical attention. Signs and symptoms include:
- Stridor (abnormal, high-pitched sound when breathing)
- Fever with or without chills
- Severe throat pain
- Difficulty and pain during swallowing
- Inability to swallow saliva
- Drooling of saliva
- Restless behavior
- The child feels better when sitting up or leaning forward with the hand stretched out for support (tripod position)
Symptoms in adults: In adults, the signs and symptoms may develop more slowly, over a few days. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Severe throat pain
- Change in voice (muffled or hoarse voice)
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty while swallowing
Risk factors for epiglottitis: Certain factors increase the risk of epiglottitis, including:
- Being male: Epiglottitis affects more men than women.
- A weak immune system: Medical conditions such as diabetes and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or medications such as corticosteroids increase the risk of epiglottitis.
- Lacking adequate vaccination: Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccination is a routine vaccination given to all children. Delayed or skipped immunizations can increase the risk of Hib infection. Hib also causes other serious infections such as meningitis and pneumonia.
What are the complications of epiglottitis?
Epiglottitis can cause numerous complications, including:
- Respiratory failure: The epiglottis gets inflamed and swollen causing narrowing of the airway or completely airway obstruction. This can lead to respiratory failure because the oxygen level in the blood significantly drops and the carbon dioxide level becomes dangerously high.
- Spread of infection: Infection that started in the epiglottitis can spread to other parts of the body, for example, pneumonia (infection of the lungs), meningitis (infection of the brain), and septicemia (bloodstream infection).
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Causes Epiglottitis? Related Articles
Is Sore Throat (Pharyngitis) Contagious?The medical term for a sore throat is pharyngitis. There are many causes of a sore throat such as medications, diseases (GERD, cancer, AIDS), infections (Streptococcus or strep, mononucleosis), allergies, and smoking. Symptoms are a red, swollen throat; fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Treatment for sore throat depends on the cause.
Is Strep Throat Contagious?Strep throat is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. Incubation period for strep throat is 1-5 days after exposure. If strep throat is treated with antibiotics, it is no longer contagious after 24 hours; if it is not treated with antibiotics, it is contagious for 2-3 weeks. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, tonsillitis, white spots or patches on the tonsils, and nausea and vomiting. Diagnosis of strep throat is performed through a rapid strep test.
Larynx Cancer (Throat Cancer)Symptoms and signs of cancer of the larynx, the organ at the front of the neck, include hoarseness, a lump in the neck, sore throat, cough, problems breathing, bad breath, earache, and weight loss. Treatment for larynx cancer depends on the stage (the extent) of the disease. Radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy are all forms of treatment for laryngeal cancer.
Sore throat (throat pain) usually is described as pain or discomfort in the throat area. A sore throat may be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, toxins, irritants, trauma, or injury to the throat area. Common symptoms of a sore throat include a fever, cough, runny nose, hoarseness, earaches, sneezing, and body aches. Home remedies for a sore throat include warm soothing liquids and throat lozenges. OTC remedies for a sore throat include OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Antibiotics may be necessary for some cases of sore throat.
Sore Throat Home RemediesNatural and home remedies for sore throat symptoms and pain relief include essential oils, licorice gargles, slippery elm leaves, raw garlic, Throat Coat tea, sage, and acupuncture. Typical symptoms of a sore throat include throat pain, coughing, sneezing, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Sore throats are caused by viral (common cold, flu, mumps), bacterial (tonsillitis, some STDs), toxins, allergens, trauma or injury, or "mechanical causes" (breathing through the mouth).
Sore Throat or Strep Throat? How to Tell the DifferenceIs this a sore throat or could it be strep throat? Explore the causes of a sore throat, including strep throat, and learn how to find relief from that raw, scratchy throat pain.
Sore Throat: Should I Take Antibiotics?A sore throat is irritation and scratchiness in the throat accompanied by pain that often worsens with swallowing. The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection. Rarely, a bacterial infection can cause a sore throat. Antibiotics cannot treat a sore throat if it is caused by a viral infection. Viruses cause about 90% of sore throats; hence, antibiotics should not be used immediately as treatment for a sore throat. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin if a sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection.
Strep Throat QuizTake the Strep (Streptococcal) Throat Infection Quiz to learn about causes, symptoms, treatments, prevention methods, diagnosis, and complications of this common infectious disease.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat. Signs and symptoms of strep throat include headache, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, and fever.
Strep throat symptoms in infants and children are different than in adults. Strep throat is contagious and is generally passed from person-to-person. Treatment for strep throat symptoms include home remedies and OTC medication; however, the only cure for strep throat are antibiotics.
Strep Throat PictureStrep infection often produces a distinct pattern of white patches in the throat and on the tonsils, as well as red swollen tonsils. See a picture of Step Throat and learn more about the health topic.
Strep Throat: Should I Take Antibiotics?Sore throats are usually caused by viruses (such as cold or flu) or from smoking. Very occasionally they can be caused by bacteria. Your doctor may advise and prescribe antibiotics for you when you have a bacterial infection or pus in your throat.
Strep Throat: Symptoms and TreatmentsStrep throat symptoms in adult and kids may be accompanied by a fever, rash and may lead to more serious complications. Strep throat tests confirm the infection, which is contagious. Treatment includes antibiotics and home care. Strep throat in kids may produce vomiting and nausea.
What Is the First Sign of Throat Cancer?Throat cancer involves the development of malignancies of the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) and tonsils. The early symptoms of throat cancer may be similar to a cold in the early stages (e.g., a persistent sore throat). The three main types of throat cancer are oropharyngeal cancer, laryngeal cancer and hypopharyngeal cancer.