Bacterial tracheitis is rare and can affect children of any age. The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and streptococci are most frequently the cause. The infection develops suddenly and is characterized by a loud squeaking noise (stridor) when the child breathes in, high fever, and often large amounts of pus-filled secretions.
Rarely, bacterial tracheitis develops as a complication of croup or endotracheal intubation (insertion of a plastic breathing tube through the mouth or nose into the trachea—see Mechanical Ventilation).
A doctor bases the diagnosis of bacterial tracheitis on symptoms.
To confirm the diagnosis, a doctor examines the throat with a thin viewing tube (laryngoscope). X-rays often are taken of the neck to show the abnormalities that distinguish bacterial tracheitis from croup.