ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

What is Epiglottitis and is it a disease to be trifled with?

The epiglottis is one of the most interesting parts of one’s mouth. It might not seem like much with its teardrop resemblance but it actually helps you avoid inhaling your food. It helps ensure that the food goes where it’s intended to be, making it a reliable part of your digestive system.



While not a lot of people take a second look at the epiglottis, its swelling and inflammation can be a seriously life-threatening condition. Known as the epiglottitis, it can block your windpipe which can prevent air from getting into your lungs. This is why it’s very important to take care of your epiglottis to avoid such complications.



Epiglottitis: The Ailment of the Epiglottis

As mentioned above, epiglottitis is the condition where your epiglottis swells. It will then effectively block your windpipe which will prevent air from reaching your lungs. This condition is common in young children but adults can have it, too.



Due to its serious effects, it requires immediate medical attention. Aside from its fatal risks, it can also cause respiratory failure. And if the swelling involves infection, the bacterial growth can also spread into the other organs and cause more serious complications.



Causes of Epiglottitis

As suggested above, epiglottitis can be caused by various things. Some of the most common culprits, however, are the following:



Bacterial, fungal, and viral infection

The most common cause of the inflammation of the epiglottis is an infection. Various microbes can result in this condition, making it a rather common condition.



Back in the day, the Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) is the most common cause of this condition. However, due to immunization, fewer cases of such infections are noted. Nowadays, the more common causes of epiglottis are the Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus), Streptococcus A, B and C, and the Staphylococcus aureus.



In some occasions, the viruses that cause chickenpox and shingles can also be blamed for epiglottitis. The fungi that cause yeast infections and diaper rashes can also cause this condition.




The epiglottis can also be quite delicate so injuring it can result in epiglottitis as well. How do you injure this cartilage? Here are a few examples of the things you should avoid if you don’t want to damage your epiglottis:

  • Drinking hot or caustic liquids
  • Swallowing foreign objects
  • Swallowing chemicals that can burn your throat
  • Smoking drugs, especially crack cocaine
  • Experiencing serious trauma to the throat



Signs and Symptoms

How can you tell if you have epiglottitis? Here are its most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Drooling
  • Pain and difficulty when swallowing
  • Hoarse voice



How to Prevent and Treat Epiglottitis

If you’ve been vaccinated against Hib, you’ve already taken the first step in preventing epiglottitis. However, taking common precautions like observing good hygiene is also a must to keep this condition at bay.



Treatment, on the other hand, can be a complicated thing. As mentioned above, if you think you or your child has epiglottitis, immediate medical attention is required. Hospitalization is usually necessary to start the treatment procedure, so be ready for that. With the help of your doctor, full recovery can be expected in most cases. As ENT problem is quite different from case to case, it is suggested to consult an ENT Specialist for the appropriate ENT services.




HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services


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