Font Size

Epiglottitis (cont.)

What Causes Epiglottitis?

Conditions that cause epiglottitis include infectious, chemical, and traumatic agents. Infectious causes are the most common. H influenzae type b was once the most common cause prior to vaccination. Currently, other organisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi are the more common causes, especially among adults.

  • Organisms that can cause epiglottitis include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus parainfluenzae, varicella-zoster (shingles), herpes simplex virus type 1 (oral herpes), and Staphylococcus aureus, among others.
  • Other types of epiglottitis that are environmental and not caused by infection include heat damage that may injure the epiglottis, called thermal epiglottitis. Thermal epiglottitis occurs from drinking hot liquids, eating solid foods, or using illicit drugs because of inhalation of metal pieces from crack cocaine pipes or the tip of marijuana cigarettes. In these cases the epiglottitis from thermal injury is similar to the illness caused by infection.
  • In very rare instances, epiglottitis may be caused by allergic reactions to food, insect stings or bites, or blunt trauma to the neck or throat.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/26/2016
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Epiglottitis

Croup Croup is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract that typically affects children under 3 years of age. Symptoms include a barking cough, cold, and low-...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Epiglottitis:

Epiglottitis - Symptoms

What were the symptoms of your epiglottitis?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Epiglottitis »

Epiglottitis, also termed supraglottitis or epiglottiditis, is an inflammation of structures above the insertion of the glottis.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary