Bacterial tracheitis is rare and can affect children of any age. The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus Staphylococcus aureus Infections Staphylococcus aureus is the most dangerous of all of the many common staphylococcal bacteria. These gram-positive, sphere-shaped (coccal) bacteria (see figure How Bacteria Shape Up)... read more and streptococci Streptococcal Infections Streptococcal infections are caused by any one of several species of Streptococcus. These gram-positive, sphere-shaped (coccal) bacteria (see figure How Bacteria Shape Up) cause many... read more are most frequently the cause. The infection develops suddenly and is characterized by a loud squeaking noise ( stridor Stridor Stridor is a gasping sound during inhalation resulting from a partial blockage of the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), or windpipe (trachea). Stridor is usually loud enough to be heard... read more ) when the child breathes in, high fever Fever in Infants and Children Normal body temperature varies from person to person and throughout the day (it is typically highest in the afternoon). Normal body temperature is higher in preschool-aged children and highest... read more , and often large amounts of pus-filled secretions.
Rarely, bacterial tracheitis develops as a complication of croup Croup Croup is an inflammation of the windpipe (trachea) and voice box (larynx) typically caused by a contagious viral infection that causes cough, a loud squeaking noise (stridor), and sometimes... read more or endotracheal intubation (insertion of a plastic breathing tube through the mouth or nose into the trachea— see Mechanical Ventilation Mechanical Ventilation Mechanical ventilation is use of a machine to aid the movement of air into and out of the lungs. Some people with respiratory failure need a mechanical ventilator (a machine that helps air get... read more ).
Diagnosis of Bacterial Tracheitis
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 Plain X-Rays X-rays are high-energy radiation waves that can penetrate most substances (to varying degrees). In very low doses, x-rays are used to produce images that help doctors diagnose disease. In high... read more often are taken of the neck to show the abnormalities that distinguish bacterial tracheitis from croup.
Treatment of Bacterial Tracheitis
With treatment, most children recover completely.
Very ill children require endotracheal intubation. The tube keeps the airway from swelling shut.
Intravenous antibiotics are given to treat the infection.