TracheitisBacterial tracheitis; Acute bacterial tracheitis
Tracheitis is a bacterial infection of the windpipe (trachea).
Bacterial tracheitis is most often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. It often follows a viral upper respiratory infection . It affects mostly young children. This may be due to their tracheas being smaller and more easily blocked by swelling.
Viral upper respiratory infection
The common cold most often causes a runny nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing. You may also have a sore throat, cough, headache, or other symptoms....
(similar to that caused by
Coughing is an important way to keep your throat and airways clear. But too much coughing may mean you have a disease or disorder. Some coughs are d...
Croup is breathing difficulty and a "barking" cough. Croup is due to swelling around the vocal cords. It is common in infants and children....
- Difficulty breathing
Fever is the temporary increase in the body's temperature in response to a disease or illness. A child has a fever when the temperature is at or abov...
High-pitched breathing sound (
Stridor is an abnormal, high-pitched, musical breathing sound. It is caused by a blockage in the throat or voice box (larynx). It is most often hea...
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and listen to the child's lungs. The muscles between the ribs may pull in as the child tries to breathe. This is called intercostal retractions .
Intercostal retractions occur when the muscles between the ribs pull inward. The movement is most often a sign that the person has a breathing probl...
Tests that may be done to diagnose this condition include:
- Blood oxygen level
to look for bacteria
Nasopharyngeal culture is a test that examines a sample of secretions from the uppermost part of the throat, behind the nose, to detect organisms tha...
- Tracheal culture to look for bacteria
of the trachea
X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, just like visible light. An x-ray machine sends individual x-ray particles through the body. The im...
The child often needs to have a tube placed into the airways to help with breathing. This is called an endotracheal tube.
The child will receive antibiotics through a vein. The health care team will closely monitor the child's breathing and use oxygen, if needed.
With prompt treatment, the child should recover.
Complications may include:
(can lead to death)
Breathing difficulty may involve:Difficult breathingUncomfortable breathingFeeling like you are not getting enough air
Toxic shock syndrome
if the condition was caused by the bacteria staphylococcus
Toxic shock syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome is a serious disease that involves fever, shock, and problems with several body organs.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Tracheitis is an emergency medical condition. Go to the emergency room right away if your child has had a recent upper respiratory infection and suddenly has a high fever, a cough that gets worse, or trouble breathing.
Cukor J, Manno M. Pediatric respiratory emergencies: upper airway obstruction and infections. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice . 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 168.
Meyer A. Pediatric infectious disease. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery . 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 197.
Weiner DJ, Finder JD. Pulmonary disorders. In: Zitelli, BJ, McIntire SC, Norwalk AJ, eds. Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis . 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 16.
Review Date: 8/29/2016
Reviewed By: Tang Ho, MD, Assistant Professor, Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. team.