What Is Tracheitis?

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Tracheitis is an acute inflammation of the upper throat that makes it painful and sometimes hard to breathe. It can occur from a viral infection or a trauma to the windpipe. Often it is not dangerous, but in severe cases it may require hospitalization and treatment to reopen the airway.

In the beginning stages, tracheitis resembles several other respiratory illnesses, and is thus tricky for doctors to diagnose. Children are the most susceptible. Find out what causes this uncommon illness, how to treat it, and more.

1. Throat Anatomy

When you inhale air or swallow food, both substances first hit the back of the throat, or pharynx. Food and air then diverge into two separate tubes, with the route for food ending in the stomach and the one for air spreading toward the lungs. A flap called the epiglottis separates the two paths.

After passing the pharynx, air goes down a passageway in the front of the throat called the larynx, also known as the voice box. Below this is the trachea. The trachea then branches into two more tubes (bronchi) that continue into the lungs. Tracheitis is an inflammation of any or all of these structures: larynx, trachea, and bronchi.


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