A flap of cartilage behind the root of the tongue, which is depressed during swallowing to cover the opening of the windpipe. It projects obliquely upwards behind the tongue and the hyoid bone, pointing dorsally. There are taste buds on the epiglottis.
Symptoms: Trouble breathing (respiratory distress), drooling, leaning forward to breathe, taking rapid shallow breaths,"pulling in" of muscles in the neck or between the ribs with breathing (retractions), high-pitched whistling sound when breathing (stridor), and trouble speaking.
Diagnosis: A throat examination using a fiber optic tube. X-rays of your throat and chest to view the severity of the inflammation and infection. Throat and blood cultures to determine the cause of infection, such as bacteria or a virus. Treament: Intravenous fluids for nutrition and hydration, antibiotics and antinflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids.
Epidemology: Epiglottitis is classically associated with Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) infection and children. In United States, epiglottitis is an uncommon disease with an incidence in adults of about 1 case per 100,000 per year. A large-scale Hib vaccination program in 1992-1993 resulted in a substantial decrease in Swedish cases of acute epiglottitis. During this period, the incidence of acute epiglottitis in adults remained constant, at 1.9 cases per 100,000 per year.