Pediatric Epiglottitis Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Dec 09, 2021
  • Author: John Udeani, MD, FAAEM; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Croup is part of the differential diagnosis of epiglottitis. The age of the patient, prodrome, type of cough, and degree of toxicity can all contribute to differentiation of epiglottitis from severe croup. Usually, croup occurs in younger children and has a viral prodrome. Most importantly, the child with croup has a barking cough and rarely appears toxic. A study by Lee et al compared the clinical characteristics of croup and epiglottitis in Korean Emergency Department patients and found that epiglottitis patients experienced dyspnea, sore throat, and vomiting more often than croup patients. [14]

Bacterial tracheitis can also mimic severe croup or epiglottitis. Other conditions to consider include the following:

  • Angioneurotic edema

  • Anaphylaxis

  • Caustic ingestion

  • Laryngeal fracture, stenosis, tuberculosis, tumor, hemangioma

  • Pertussis

  • Pharyngitis

  • Pneumonia

  • Peritonsillar Abscess

  • Retropharyngeal Abscess

  • Uvulitis

  • Vocal cord paralysis

See also Epiglottitis and Emergent Management of Pediatric Epiglottitis.

Differential Diagnoses