Why it happens

Epiglottitis is usually caused by an infection withHaemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria. As well as epiglottitis, Hib can cause a number of serious infections, such as pneumonia and meningitis .

It spreads in the same way as the cold or flu virus; the bacteria areinthe tiny droplets of saliva and mucus propelled into the air when aninfected person coughs or sneezes. Youcatch the infection by breathing in these droplets or, if the droplets have landed on a surface or object, by touching thissurface and then touching your face or mouth.

Less common causes of epiglottitis include:

  • other bacterial infections such as streptococcus pneumoniae (a common cause of pneumonia)
  • fungal infections people with a weakened immune system are most at risk from these types of infection
  • viral infections such as the varicella zoster virus (the virus responsible for chickenpox ) and the herpes simplex virus (the virus responsible for cold sores )
  • trauma to the throat such as a blow to the throat, or burning the throat by drinking very hot liquids
  • smoking particularlyillegal drugs, such as cannabis or crack cocaine
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018