What is Acute Epiglottitis?

Acute Epiglottitis
Acute Epiglottitis

What is Acute Epiglottitis

Acute Epiglottitis is an inflammation and inflammation of the epiglottis. Epiglottis is a leaf-shaped valve that serves to cover the trachea (windpipe) so as not to enter the food or liquid when we swallow. The valve is located behind the base of the tongue.

This inflammation can affect anyone of any age. However, children aged 2 to 5 years are the group of people who most often experience it. People with weakened immune systems (eg HIV patients or chemotherapy patients) and people who have not received the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine are also at higher risk for epiglottitis.

Acute Epiglottitis Symptoms

Epiglottitis In Children, symptoms of epiglottitis tend to worsen quickly, even within hours. In contrast to adult patients, symptoms generally appear and worsen slowly. Symptoms in epiglotitis include:

  • Fever.
  • Severe sore throat.
  • Painful and difficult to swallow.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Prefer sitting up straight with body leaning forward. Because in this position, the patient is easier to breathe.
  • A loud breath.
  • Urgent.
  • Restless.
  • Drooling (salivating).
  • Hoarseness.

Epiglottitis In Children, includes a medical emergency because it may inhibit breathing. Therefore, patients who show symptoms above should be immediately taken to the hospital. Do not lay the patient in supine position or check the patient’s throat without medical assistance, as it may exacerbate the breathing obstacle.

Because the symptoms are similar, this disease is often presumed croup (Laryngotracheobronkitis), an infection of the voice box and throat caused by a virus that is often experienced by children. But please keep in mind that epiglotitis is more dangerous. If not treated immediately, epiglottis can swell and cover the trachea thereby inhibiting the supply of oxygen and lead to death.

Acute Epiglottitis Causes

Bacterial infections are a major cause of Epiglottitis In Children. Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) are the most common types of bacteria that trigger inflammation in the epiglottis.

These infections will cause the epiglottis to swell and block out the entry of air in the respiratory tract so that the potential to cause death.

In addition to infection, a sore throat can also cause epiglottis inflammation and swelling. For example, due to a collision or a blow, a foreign object or a swallowed chemical compound, and the use of illicit drugs inhaled.

Diagnosis of Acute Epiglottitis

Persons suspected of having epiglottitis should be immediately taken to hospital for emergency treatment. The main priority in handling is to make sure the respiratory tract is open so that it can be passed by oxygen. An example is by installing an endotracheal tube through the mouth.

If the epiglottis covers the trachea so that endotracheal tube insertion through the mouth is difficult, or in an emergency where the airway should be opened as soon as possible, the tracheotomy tube can be paired, through the hole created in the patient’s neck directly into the trachea.

Follow-up checks are performed only after the breathing is stable. Some of them are:

  • Examination of the throat with laryngoscopy or nasopharyngoscopy, to see epiglottic conditions.
  • Blood test, to see signs of infection.
  • Laboratory examination with epiglottic tissue samples, to check for presence of virus or bacteria.
  • Chest X-ray or neck.
  • CT or MRI scan, if the results on the scans in any other way do not provide a clear enough picture.

Acute Epiglottitis Treatment

If Epiglottitis In Children is caused by a bacterial infection, the treatment is by administering antibiotics. To reduce swelling and inflammation, steroid medications may be given.

Prevention of Acute Epiglottitis

Hib vaccine is a major prevention of epiglottitis. In Indonesia, this vaccine is given in conjunction with DPT and hepatitis B, and is referred to as the Pentabio vaccine. Giving this vaccine has 4 stages, namely at the time of infants aged 2, 4, 6, and 18 months. For children who first came at age 1-5 years, this vaccine is given only 1 time.

Preventing the spread of Hib infection can help prevent epiglottitis. Therefore, antibiotics are sometimes also given to people who live in a house with the patient as a precaution.

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