Epiglottis can cause a number of complications, including:

  • Respiratory failure. The epiglottis is a small, movable "lid" just above the larynx that prevents food and drink from entering your windpipe. But if the epiglottis becomes swollen — either from infection or from injury — the airway narrows and may become completely blocked. This can lead to respiratory failure — a life-threatening condition in which the level of oxygen in the blood drops dangerously low or the level of carbon dioxide becomes excessively high.
  • Spreading infection. Sometimes the bacteria that cause epiglottitis cause infections elsewhere in the body, such as pneumonia, meningitis or a blood infection (sepsis).
Oct. 02, 2012