Acute Epiglottitis

Acute epiglottitis there is little to herald its onset. There may be a vaguely sore throat, and probably the symptoms of a cold. Difficulty in swallowing is one of the main symptoms, and this may come on early. There may be an alteration in the cry or voice, said to be characteristic of the disorder. It is similar to that caused by foreign body lodging in the throat. Stridor (a harsh sound in the throat) when breathing in develops rapidly, and this may end in sudden fatal obstruction. All this may occur within the span of a few hours, so a prompt call for assistance and an early diagnosis is essential.

On examination, the doctor may notice there is swelling of the epiglottis, the cartilaginous object protruding up behind the base of the tongue.

Acute Epiglottitis Treatment

Treatment in hospital by a specialist is advisable, for tracheostomy or intubation is often necessary and may be lifesaving. This means that either an incision is made into the airway allowing respiration to continue, or a tube is inserted for this purpose. Antibiotics, humidified air, and oxygen may all form part of therapy.