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Epiglottitis Causes & Risks


Factors that can cause epiglottitis include:

  • Bacteria, viruses, and fungi , such as:
    • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)—the most common cause and the cause of the most deadly type of epiglottitis; not the same germ that causes the flu
    • Streptococcus pneumoniae —also the cause of meningitis
    • Streptococcus A, B, and C—also the cause of strep throat and blood infections
    • Candida albicans —also the cause of yeast infections , diaper rash, and oral thrush
    • Varicella zoster —also the cause of chickenpox and shingles
  • Burns from hot liquids
  • Physical injury to the throat area
  • Crack cocaine

Bacterial infections usually cause epiglottitis. In the past, Hib most frequently caused epiglottitis. However, since vaccination against this virus was started in children, it has actually become more prevalent among adults than children.

Risk Factors

Epiglottitis is a contagious disease. It is passed much like the common cold , through droplets released when sneezing and coughing. Anyone can develop epiglottitis, however the following factors can increase a person’s risk:

  • Age:
    • Children, aged 3-7, living in countries that do not offer vaccines
    • Infants too young to receive vaccination (younger than two months)
    • Adults in their 40s (very rare)
  • Sex: Males are more prone than females.
  • Living in close quarters
  • Attending day care, being in school, or working in an office
  • Weather: more common in winter
  • Race: more common among African Americans and Hispanics

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