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Epiglottitis is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the epiglottis, a small cartilage flap located at the base of the tongue, becomes swollen and inflamed. It is a medical emergency that can lead to airway obstruction and suffocation if not treated promptly.

The most common cause of epiglottitis is a bacterial infection, usually caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Other causes include viral infections, fungal infections, trauma, and allergies.

The primary symptom of epiglottitis is difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include a sore throat, drooling, muffled voice, fever, and difficulty swallowing. In severe cases, the patient may experience severe respiratory distress and stridor (a high-pitched noise heard when breathing).

Diagnosis of epiglottitis is made through a physical examination, imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI, and a laryngoscopy (a procedure in which a scope is inserted into the throat to view the epiglottis).

Treatment typically includes antibiotics, airway management, and supportive care. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the swollen epiglottis.

Epiglottitis is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty breathing or any other symptoms of epiglottitis, seek medical help immediately.

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Epiglottitis. Retrieved from
  • Mayo Clinic. (2020). Epiglottitis. Retrieved from
  • National Institutes of Health. (2020). Epiglottitis. Retrieved from