Home » Your Health » Children's Health News » 7 Scary Causes and Symptoms of Epiglottitis

7 Scary Causes and Symptoms of Epiglottitis

Children's Health News, Featured, Mobile Slider Featured, Your Health

If you opened your news feed over the weekend, you were likely hit with some pretty scary health news from the celebrity world: Comedian, Sarah Silverman, was admitted to intensive care with Epiglottitis. Don’t worry, “What the heck is Epiglottitis?,” were my exact thoughts as well.

Thankfully, Epiglottitis is a fairy rare (particularly in adults) yet life-threatening condition that can occur over a period of days when the tiny cartilage flap (called the epiglottis), located at the base of the tongue, which covers the windpipe (or trachea) becomes inflamed and blocks air flow, according to Healthline.com. Silverman, like many patients, mistook this serious condition as mundane throat discomfort, the type that can occur with allergies, voice over-usage, or drinking a too hot beverage. Please note that the symptoms for Epiglottitis differ slightly for children and adults, and a Hib vaccine can be administered during childhood to help prevent the bacteria that causes most Epiglottitis cases in young children to occur…

1. What Characterizes Epiglottitis?

The Mayo Clinic explains that Epiglottitis is a condition that can occur over a period of days in older children and adults (alternatively, it can come on suddenly in small children). This means you might feel a slight airway restriction, however, your life may not be in jeopardy until the epiglottis (which is that small flap of cartilage covering over your windpipe) swells completely.

Once this trachea covering swells completely, it can completely block any air flow to the lungs. However, patients may be reluctant to consider Epiglottitis a medical emergency since the symptoms can be gradual and flu-like (i.e., sore throat, difficulty swallowing, raspy voice, etc.).


2. What Causes Epiglottitis?

According to Healthline.com, even though this condition is considered rare, a bacterial infection (caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b, or Hib) during childhood is the most common trigger of Epiglottitis. This type of bacteria is typically contracted when a patient inhales Hib germs from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.

However, the Mayo Clinic suggests that Epiglottitis can also occur due to drug use (i.e., smoking crack cocaine), a throat injury (puncture, due to drinking hot beverages, or from swallowing an object that causes injury), or due to the contraction of a viral, fungal, or bacterial infections (i.e., Streptococcus A, B, or C; shingles, chicken pox, yeast infection, severe diaper rash, pneumonia, or meningitis).


3. Difficulty Swallowing

Both older children and adults with gradually worsening Epoglottitis may express difficulty or pain when swallowing in the early stages.  Oftentimes, drooling occurs when patients experience trouble swallowing.

The pain and inflammation of the epiglottis may also be more severe when leaning back or lying down, but upon sitting upright or leaning forward symptoms may seem to subside temporarily.


4. Sore Throat

As mentioned, the symptoms of Epiglottitis can develop over a few days, and become rapidly worse very quickly in older children and adults. Your throat may sound scratchy and your voice may become hoarse (similar to laryngitis) at first.

However, keep in mind that a typical sore throat due to a cold or flu will improve within a week. However, if you experience a sore throat that becomes painful and exceedingly worse, it should demand medical attention, especially if it’s accompanied by the other symptoms listed in this article.

Strep Throat

5. High Fever

For children, a fever with chills is a sign to parents that something is wrong. In this case an elevated temperature soaring to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (or above 38 degrees Celcius) may indicate the type of existing viral, fungal, or bacterial infection that can trigger Epiglottitis.

Small children, and even adults with high fever, may appear irritable and restlessness. However, in the case of Epiglottitis, fever will typically accompany other symptoms listed in this article.


6. Abnormal Breathing

Breathing difficulty or breathing abnormalities are the major concern for both children and adults with Epiglottitis, according to NHS Choices (U.K. National Health Service). Breathing may present as high-pitched, noisy, muffled, or raspy in nature.

Children’s breathing may be “stridor” or make a high-pitched, vibrating, musical sounds that indicate a larynx or trachea obstruction. Both adults and children may be unable to catch their breath and resort to mouth breathing.

Shortness of Breath

7. Bluish Skin/Oxygen Deprivation

If an adult or child presents bluish colored skin, this discoloration may indicate oxygen deprivation due to a swollen or blocked airway.

In this case, emergency care should be considered vital and immediate.  If you suspect Epiglottitis, or you or a loved one has trouble swallowing/and or breathing seek out the nearest hospital emergency department as soon as possible while keeping the patient in an upright position to ease breathing.

emergency room


More on ActiveBeat

  • 8 Iron-Rich Foods That Aren’t Meat
    Iron, an essential mineral that helps to transport oxygen throughout the body, comes in two dietary forms: heme and non-heme.
    Children's Health News
  • 6 Simple Ways to Prevent Jet Lag
    Embarking on an international trip is an exciting time. The stress of planning is done and the plane has taken off; time to sit back and relax.
    Children's Health News
  • 6 Brain-Boosting Activities to Help Prevent Alzheimer's
    In the United States, Alzheimer’s disease affects one in 10 people aged 65 and older. Despite how common it is, scientists have yet to discover what causes the development and...
    Children's Health News
  • 6 Painless Fibromyalgia Diet Tips
    Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that affects up to 5-million Americans, according to Healthline.com.
    Children's Health News
  • 7 Treatment Options for Agoraphobia
    People dealing with agoraphobia face some of the greatest mental health challenges: fear of leaving an environment deemed to be safe.
    Children's Health News
  • Don't Be Confused by These 8 Delirium Causes
    "Delirium" is a term often used for someone who is not in their right mind, and often there are underlying health factors.
    Children's Health News
  • 6 Promising New Medical Treatments for Cancer
    Medical science is constantly making cancer breakthroughs, however there's an extensive process to bring treatments to the public.
    Children's Health News
  • 6 Best Foods to Fight Osteoarthritis
    Osteoarthritis is actually the most common chronic joint problem, caused in part by wear and tear that reduces joint cushioning and cartilage, leading to pain and stiffness.
    Children's Health News
  • 7 Facts about Heat, Humidity and Impacts on Health
    We're coming into the warmer season, and for states that are already relatively warm for most of the year, that means they'll be especially hot.
    Children's Health News
  • Breathe Easier with These 6 Natural Asthma Treatments
    Asthma is a condition that causes breathing to become very labored, which can limit activities or even lead to medical emergencies.
    Children's Health News
  • 9 Possible Causes of Amnesia
    As far as mental health matters go, amnesia may be one of the most frightening conditions out there.
    Children's Health News
  • Load Up on These 6 Magnesium Deficiency Treatments
    You may not wake up and think to yourself, "Wow, I really could use some magnesium today," but the truth is your body needs it – at least one source says it's responsible for up...
    Children's Health News
  • 6 Pain-Free Fibromyalgia Treatments
    Fibromyalgia can be a painfully debilitating disease that can affect multiple points of your body, making daily activities more difficult.
    Children's Health News
  • 7 Things Keeping Your Children Awake at Night
    For some of us adults, thinking about unpaid bills or a big meeting the next day can wake us up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.
    Children's Health News
  • 8 Signs of Scurvy
    Scurvy -- chances are you read of the condition in history books about world explorers and continental adventurers who came down with the illness after being away from home (and...
    Children's Health News