This infection is now rare, thanks to the Hib (Haemophilus influenza B) immunization. Epiglottitis looks like severe croup with a high fever. The epiglottis is a small bit of tissue that forms the trap door at the top of the windpipe that keeps food out. If it becomes infected and swollen, it can block off the windpipe completely.
A child with epiglottitis is likely to become ill very quickly. He leans forwards, drools, refuses to take food or liquids and usually makes no sounds at all for fear of provoking a typical croupy cough. He may be unwilling to turn his head because he's keeping his neck in the position that gives him the most room for air to pass between the swollen epiglottis and the windpipe. Epiglottitis is a true medical emergency. Get the child to a doctor or hospital as quickly as possible.
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