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Epiglottitis is a medical emergency where inflammation occurs in the epiglottis which is flap of cartilage at the base of the tongue covering the windpipe.


  • Bacterial infection especially Haemophilus influenza type B, Streptococcus pneumoniae or Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Certain viruses
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Trauma
  • Heat injury


  • Fever
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Whistling sound or stridor while inhaling
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Blue skin
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness

Treatment needs to be urgent and is mostly in a hospital. It includes:

  • Breathing tube or endotracheal intubation
  • Antibiotics and anti inflammatory medications
  • Sometimes tracheotomy or surgical opening of the airway


  • Hib vaccine in childhood