What Is Tracheitis?

Tracheitis is an infection of the trachea, or the windpipe. It is the most common cause of lower airway infections in children and often occurs in those who have an underlying respiratory illness. Tracheitis is usually an inflammatory condition and can be caused by either a virus or bacteria. It is characterized by coughing, fever, and difficulty breathing. Treatment usually involves antibiotics or antivirals to help fight the infection as well as bronchodilators to open up the airways. Although tracheitis can be disruptive and cause discomfort, it is usually not life-threatening.

Symptoms of Tracheitis

The common symptoms associated with tracheitis are coughing, wheezing, chest congestion, and difficulty breathing. Fever, sore throat, and hoarseness may also occur. In some cases, the symptoms may worsen at night. Children may also be susceptible to noisy breathing known as stridor.

Causes Of Tracheitis

The most common cause of tracheitis is a viral or bacterial infection, especially those associated with colds or the flu. It can also be caused by environmental irritants like pollen, smoke, and dust. In some cases, tracheitis may be an allergic reaction. In rare cases, it can be caused by a foreign object that enters the airway.

Risk Factors For Tracheitis

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing tracheitis, including:

  • Exposure to a virus or bacteria
  • Allergies or asthma
  • Exposure to smoke, dust, or other environmental irritants
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Mouth or nose injury or breach

Diagnosis Of Tracheitis

Tracheitis is usually diagnosed with a physical exam and a review of symptoms. The doctor may also perform blood tests, a chest X-ray, or a throat swab to check for infection. In some cases, a bronchoscopy may be needed to examine the trachea and collect samples for testing.

Treatment And Prevention Of Tracheitis

The treatment of tracheitis depends on the cause. Antibiotics or antivirals may be prescribed to combat the infection. Fever reducers and anti-inflammatory medicines may also be used to help reduce symptoms. Bronchodilators may be prescribed to open up the airways. The doctor may also recommend nasal saline irrigation or breathing steam to help loosen and relieve mucus. In some cases, oxygen therapy may be needed.

Preventing tracheitis can be difficult, but limiting exposure to environmental irritants and allergens may help. It is also important to promptly treat any underlying infections or respiratory illnesses. It is important to teach children not to put objects into their nose or mouth.