Epiglottitis is severe swelling of the epiglottis. The epiglottis is a flap-like tissue located in the throat. During swallowing, the epiglottis folds over the windpipe and vocal chords to prevent food and liquids from entering the lungs. Swelling can quickly seal off the airway and make breathing difficult.

Epiglottitis is rare and requires immediate medical attention. If you think you, your child, or someone you know has epiglottitis, go to the emergency room right away.

The Throat
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Factors that can cause epiglottitis include:

  • Bacteria, viruses, and fungi
  • Burns from hot liquids
  • Physical injury to the throat area
  • Crack cocaine