If you have been diagnosed with epiglottitis, you may wish to go over the following five questions with your physician.
1. What does epiglottitis mean? This is the first I have heard of it.
Epiglottitis is a bacterial infection of the epiglottis along with the arytenoids (made from cartilage and part of the larynx to which vocal chords are attached). More often than not, it is the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae type B that infects the epiglottis. However, studies and doctors have now come across cases of epiglottitis caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes and Mycobacterium tuberculosis as well. It also causes spasm with excessive swelling of the epiglottis blocking your trachea that can cause death within minutes. For this reason alone, epiglottitis is considered a medical emergency.
2. Besides the symptoms I have of breathing and swallowing difficulties and ear pain, what else am I likely to experience?
Drooling, stridor (whistling sound when inhaling air while breathing), high fever, ear pain, swollen glands and hoarseness of voice are common in cases of epiglottitis. All this causes considerable anxiety in the sufferer as it is backed by moderate to severe pain of the epiglottis, swelling of the throat and feeling of asphyxiation (or suffocation). In acute cases the epiglottis can be so swollen that it narrows the windpipe and eventually blocks the trachea completely and causes fatality in patients especially during sleeping hours or when in a lying down position.
3. Can my children and other members of the family also get infected with epiglottitis because of me?
Yes. During the treatment phase members of the family and other high risk groups should be kept away from the patient. If they must come in contact, they should be well covered with mask and gloves and disinfect well after the meeting. Epiglottitis is a highly infectious condition and often calls for quarantine condition.
There have however been reported cases of non-infectious epiglottitis in children.
4. The diagnostic test that was performed on me, will that be the only test I need to take for my epiglottitis?