The key difference between croup and epiglottitis is that croup is a viral infection of the upper airway which obstructs breathing and produces a barking cough, while epiglottitis is a life-threatening bacterial infection that causes inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis.
Croup and epiglottitis are two types of illnesses of the upper airway. Both are caused due to infections. Croup is a viral infection, while epiglottitis is a bacterial infection. Croup is a common illness that is not very serious. Epiglottitis is a rare illness that is life threatening. Croup causes swelling of the larynx, trachea and bronchi. Epiglottitis causes inflammation and swelling of epiglottis.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Croup
3. What is Epiglottitis
4. Similarities Between Croup and Epiglottitis
5. Side by Side Comparison – Croup vs Epiglottitis in Tabular Form
What is Croup?
Croup is a viral infection that occurs in the upper airway by a parainfluenza virus. Acute laryngotracheitis and acute laryngotracheobronchitis are alternative names of croup. It causes swelling of the trachea, voice box and bronchi. As a result, it obstructs breathing. When breathing, it produces a high-pitched whistling sound as well. Moreover, barking cough is characteristic of croup. Fever can also be developed due to croup.
Croup is a common and primarily pediatric illness that occurs in younger children. Children between 6 months and 3 years of age are more susceptible to croup. Croup starts with a typical cold and shows inflammation. Symptoms of croup last for two-three days. Generally, symptoms worsen at night. Croup is not a serious illness. It can be treated at home. It can be prevented by taking precautions such as washing hands frequently, keeping children away from sick people and encouraging kids to sneeze into the elbow.
What is Epiglottitis?
Epiglottis is the flap at the base of the tongue. It is a small cartilage “lid”. It prevents food from entering the trachea. Epiglottitis is a life threatening condition or illness caused due to inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis. The infective agent of epiglottitis is Haemophilus influenza. It occurs due to other bacteria as well. It is a rare condition. But it is a potentially life-threatening infection. This infection causes rapid swelling of the epiglottis.
Symptoms of epiglottitis include trouble swallowing which can result in drooling, changes in the voice, fever, and an increased breathing rate. Swelled epiglottis can interfere with breathing.
What are the Similarities Between Croup and Epiglottitis?
- Croup and epiglottitis are two illnesses caused by infections.
- Both croup and epiglottitis can interfere with breathing.
- These are illnesses of the upper airway.
- Inflammation and swelling of different structures can be seen.
What is the Difference Between Croup and Epiglottitis?
Croup is a viral infection that results in the swelling of the larynx, trachea and bronchi. On the other hand, epiglottitis is a bacterial infection that results in inflammation and swelling of epiglottis. So, this is the key difference between croup and epiglottitis. The causative agent of croup is most often a parainfluenza virus. Epiglottitis is primarily caused by Haemophilus influenza and then by other bacteria.
Moreover, croup affects the larynx, trachea and bronchi, while epiglottitis affects epiglottis. Swelling of trachea, larynx and bronchi can be seen in croup, while inflammation and swelling of epiglottis occur in epiglottitis. Thus, this is another difference between croup and epiglottitis. Croup is not a serious illness, but, epiglottitis is a life threatening illness.
The below infographic summarizes the differences between croup and epiglottitis in tabular form.
Summary – Croup vs Epiglottitis
Both croup and epiglottitis are illnesses of the upper airway. Croup is a common pediatric illness caused due to a viral infection. Croup affects the larynx and trachea. The swelling of the larynx and trachea obstructs breathing. Moreover, it produces a barking cough and a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing. It is not a serious illness. In contrast, epiglottitis is a life threatening illness caused due to a bacterial infection. The inflammation and swelling of epiglottis happen in epiglottitis. As a result, trouble swallowing and breathing occur. Thus, this summarizes the difference between croup and epiglottitis.
1. “Croup.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 11 Apr. 2019, Available here.
2. Guerra, Amanda M. “Epiglottitis.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 10 Feb. 2021, Available here.
1. “Croup steeple sign” By Frank Gaillard – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Compare epiglottis” By Med Chaos – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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