In the neck region the airway (larynx) and the passage (esophagus) for food, drink and so on are near each other. If food and other material accidentally go into the airway death from airway obstruction can result.
The epiglottis is a flexible flap of tissue that prevents food and other material from going into the airway during swallowing. Due to for example, bacterial infection, the epiglottis and adjacent tissues can become (inflamed) swollen and red – cherry red epiglottis.
When inflamed, the epiglottis itself can obstruct the airway with fatal consequences; consequently visualizing the cherry red epiglottis should only be done for instance in an operating theatre with airway management specialists in attendance.
Vaccination with the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine helps prevent epiglottitis (inflammation of the epiglottis) and other diseases caused by the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae.
ReferenceHung TY et al. Bedside ultrasonography as a safe and effective tool to diagnose acute epiglottitis. Am J Emerg Med, 2011, 29(3):359.e1-3. Go to reference
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