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Alternative NamesBacterial tracheitis; Acute bacterial tracheitis
Definition Return to top
Tracheitis is a bacterial infection of the windpipe (trachea).
Causes Return to top
Bacterial tracheitis is most often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. It frequently follows a recent viral upper respiratory infection. It affects mostly young children, possibly because their small trachea is easily blocked by swelling.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
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.
Tests that may be done to diagnose this condition include:
Treatment Return to top
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 and oxygen. The health care team will closely monitor the child's breathing.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
With prompt treatment, the child should recover.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Tracheitis is an emergency medical condition. Go to the emergency room if your child has had a recent upper respiratory infection and suddenly has a high fever, a cough that gets worse, and trouble breathing.Update Date: 10/10/2008 Updated by: Alan Lipkin, MD, Otolaryngologist, Private Practice, Denver, Colorado. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.