n. acute inflammation and obstruction of the respiratory tract, involving the larynx and the main air passages (trachea and bronchi), in young children (usually aged between six months and three years). The usual cause is a virus infection but bacterial secondary infection can occur. The symptoms are those of laryngitis, accompanied by signs of obstruction – harsh difficult breathing (see stridor), a characteristic barking cough, a rising pulse rate, restlessness, and cyanosis. Treatment is by reassurance and humidification of the inspired air. In severe cases the obstruction may require treatment by steroid nebulizers, intubation, or tracheostomy. See also epiglottitis.
Subjects: Medicine and Health.