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Alternative namesTracheitis is a bacterial infection of the trachea (wind pipe) capable of producing airway obstruction .
Causes, incidence, and risk factorsBacterial tracheitis is most often caused by Staphylococcus aureus and frequently follows a recent viral upper respiratory infection . It affects mostly young children, possibly because their small trachea is easily blocked by swelling.
Children may still have a cough from their previous infection but this rapidly worsens. The child quickly develops stridor, a high pitched, crowing sound with breathing and increasing breathing difficulty. Fever is generally high and the child looks very ill. This condition may progress very rapidly.
These children may sound as if they have croup , but the usual croup treatments do not improve the breathing difficulty. Tracheitis requires hospitalization and, almost always, a breathing tube (endotracheal tube) in order to maintain an open airway.
The infection is treated with an antistaphylococcal medications such as penicillin or a cephalosporin that covers staphylococcus. If a different organism is at fault, the appropriate antibiotic is used.
Signs and tests
TreatmentThe child often needs to have an airway or breathing tube placed (endotracheal tube). Antibiotics are given through a vein, usually a type of penicillin or one of the cephalosporins. Oxygen is usually given, and the blood gases are monitored to be sure that the child is breathing adequately.
Expectations (prognosis)Full recovery is expected if the patient can be brought to a medical facility in time.
Calling your health care providerGo to the emergency room if your child has had a recent upper respiratory infection and suddenly develops a high fever, worsening cough, and breathing difficulty. This is a true emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
PreventionMany cases are not preventable.
Update Date: 7/30/2003Jason Newman, M.D., Department of Otolaryngology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, Washington, DC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT