What to do if a child has laryngeal edema

Any deviations in the condition of children are a shock to their parents. They are unable to think adequately, which is why they cannot help the baby. They are frightened by swelling of the larynx in a child, but they do not even suspect that this condition is a symptom of a dangerous disease. The narrowing of the lumen is provoked by diseases and the action of external factors. The pathology is characterized by impaired respiratory function and requires immediate assistance. To alleviate the child’s condition, you need to establish the causes of the problem, and then select therapy.

Laryngeal edema pathogenesis

The respiratory system has a special structure. A small lumen and loose connective tissue create favorable conditions for laryngeal edema in children.

Edema is never an independent disease. It is an external manifestation of various diseases. In children and adults, the clinical picture of edema is different. This is due to the fact that in the former, the vestibule of the larynx swells, and in the latter, the subglottic space swells. In most cases, the pathology is one-sided, having similar symptoms to an abscess. But with injuries, all tissues of the throat are damaged.

Edema develops in people with weakened immune systems. Therefore, it appears in diabetes mellitus, vitamin deficiency, and after illnesses such as scarlet fever and influenza. The pathogenesis of the disease can be associated with various reasons: burns, fungal diseases, injuries, infection, inflammation.

Treatment of throat swelling

Remember, self-medication is possible only in the case of the first degree. In all other situations, call an ambulance. Before the ambulance team arrives, it is necessary to provide first aid to the child and try to relieve swelling of the larynx as much as possible. To do this, you need to give the child a sitting position and make sure that he has access to fresh air. Warm the baby's feet, maybe in a warm bath, give him the same warm drink. These measures can not only stop the swelling, but also remove it completely. Even in this case, it is impossible to refuse hospitalization, since this condition may recur until the disease that caused it is completely cured.

Even if laryngeal swelling was caused by an allergic reaction, you should consult a doctor. Find out what caused the allergy, then remove the pathogen from the child's environment. Antibiotic treatment is used only in cases where it cannot be avoided, i.e. the disease became severe. A course of antibiotics is prescribed only by a doctor, taking into account all possible reactions to the drug. Self-medication is unacceptable and dangerous.

Various inhalations are also used to relieve swelling in the larynx in children. Again, only with the doctor's permission. To heal a sore throat faster, give your child more warm drinks, especially milk. You should also make compresses on the throat from warm wool.


The problem of edema occurs in preschoolers and elementary school students. An increase in the thickness of the mucous membrane of the throat leads to a decrease in the lumen of the larynx.

In a child, edema may have infectious or non-infectious causes:

  • Bacterial infections. Diphtheria, abscesses, epiglottitis.
  • Viral infections. Adenoviruses, RSV, influenza.
  • Non-infectious factors. Laryngeal injuries, laryngospasm, allergies.

In order to understand what parents should do if there is swelling of the larynx, they need to study in detail each of the causes of the pathology.

Inflammatory diseases

The main cause of swelling or swelling of the throat is considered to be an inflammatory disease. With this problem, the lumen of the larynx decreases by half and breathing becomes difficult. Inflammatory diseases such as pharyngitis, sinusitis, rhinitis affect the upper respiratory tract, resulting in inflammation and swelling of the larynx. The cause of the problem may be the action of irritants, injury, bacteria, or hypothermia. Patients with chronic diseases of the nasopharynx often develop swelling of the throat. This condition is one of the alarming symptoms of a dangerous pathology.

A feature of inflammatory diseases is the rapid development of edema and damage to all mucous tissue. The patient's condition worsens. In addition to stenosis, the child develops a cough, hoarseness, sore throat, and trouble breathing. The vocal cords may also suffer, which is why patients often lose their voice, develop a dry cough, and rise in body temperature. There is discomfort in the throat area. The baby feels as if his throat is being squeezed.

Symptoms are divided into several stages:

  • First. The larynx swells, the voice becomes hoarse, and a dry cough appears.
  • Second. The patient's condition worsens, breathing becomes more difficult.
  • Third. The intercostal space sinks, the nasolabial triangle turns blue.

Diseases such as croup and diphtheria can provoke the development of laryngospasm. Ignoring the disease and its symptoms can lead to the death of the patient. Therefore, with severe stenosis, emergency assistance is required. The problem occurs in people of different ages, but the degree of stenosis is more complex. In some cases, with difficulty breathing, it is impossible to manage without an auxiliary ventilation system.


If a child has a swollen throat, then one should not exclude the possibility of an infection. Patients show signs of poisoning: dry throat, muscle pain, increased body temperature. Inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nasopharynx begins. On palpation, enlarged lymph nodes and pain are felt.

Infectious swelling is accompanied by damage to the tonsils, soft and hard palate. Most often it occurs with sore throat, foreign bodies in the throat and damage to the mucous membrane.

Allergy Quincke's edema, anaphylactic shock

Often the pathology is a manifestation of allergic edema of the larynx in children. In this case, swelling of the larynx develops upon contact with the irritant. Increased sensitivity of the child's body to certain substances causes allergies. Manifestations of pathology can affect different organs and systems, but most often affect the respiratory organs.

Contact with allergens causes redness of mucous tissues, swelling of the airways in children and difficulty breathing. Nasal congestion and watery eyes may appear. The danger of this condition is that it develops at lightning speed and can lead to Quincke's edema. The swelling spreads quickly and in the absence of emergency help the patient may suffocate.

In order to alleviate the patient’s condition and relieve swelling, it is necessary to eliminate the allergen as quickly as possible and restore breathing. Antihistamines help in this situation. After first aid is provided, the patient undergoes further treatment in a hospital.

Tumors and neoplasms

In some cases, the cause of swelling in a child’s throat is associated with the appearance of tumors. The only way to alleviate the patient's condition is to remove the tumor.

Therefore, if edema occurs quite regularly in children, he needs to undergo a full medical examination. This is necessary to confirm or deny the presence of a tumor.

Injuries, burns and foreign bodies

Edema of the larynx can also develop due to injuries. They appear when the larynx is exposed to a traumatic factor. Often this condition occurs when foreign objects enter the throat. The injury can also be thermal or chemical in nature. Patients experience respiratory distress, cough, and pain.

Injuries require pain relief, followed by anti-edematous, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory therapy.

Other reasons

For example, a provoking factor for pathology may be a burn received from eating hot food. There may also be other reasons for the problem. These include:

  • the use of radiotherapy in the throat area;
  • throat surgery;
  • carrying out an x-ray examination.

Edema develops with pathology of the thyroid gland and other diseases of the throat or respiratory tract.

The main causes of laryngeal edema in young children

Today, doctors identify many reasons for the development of throat swelling in a child. All causes leading to an emergency state of edema are usually divided into infectious and non-infectious factors.

The first group is the causes of the development of laryngeal edema of an infectious nature. This is, first of all:

  • Acute viral infections that can be caused by various influenza or parainfluenza viruses (almost 75% of all cases), as well as adenoviruses in their advanced forms.
  • Numerous bacterial infections: tonsillitis, abscesses, diphtheria, which again did not receive timely and adequate treatment.

The second group is the non-infectious causes that cause laryngeal edema:

  • This is aspiration of various foreign bodies.
  • These are numerous injuries to the larynx.
  • Allergy or allergic swelling of the throat.
  • Development of laryngospasm, for one reason or another, etc.

Swelling of the larynx of any etiology, without proper medical care for the child, can inevitably lead to the development of laryngeal stenosis (narrowing of its lumen), and to respiratory failure, and this is indeed very dangerous.


Confirming the diagnosis of laryngeal edema is easy. Because the symptoms and signs of laryngeal edema in a child are well expressed and can be seen even with the naked eye. For this disease, the diagnosis must be made by a doctor. Patients are examined by an otaryngologist. His main task is to understand what caused the problem and select treatment methods.

The specialist examines the child, listens to his complaints, and, if necessary, prescribes tests. Laryngoscopy, palpation, fluorography, and bronchoscopy will be performed. Based on the examination results, patients are prescribed treatment.

Main symptoms

Diseases of the upper respiratory tract in children include diseases affecting the nose and paranasal sinuses, pharynx and upper larynx. They occur in children quite often under the influence of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Among the main symptoms of upper respiratory tract diseases are the following:

  • nasal congestion;
  • mucous or mucopurulent discharge from the nose;
  • sneezing;
  • cough;
  • a sore throat;
  • plaque on the surface of the tonsils;
  • temperature increase;
  • swollen lymph nodes;
  • nausea and vomiting caused by intoxication of the body.

If all these signs appear in a child, then you should not try to make a diagnosis yourself. It is quite difficult to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections based only on the existing symptoms. It is possible to determine the causative agent of the disease and prescribe the required treatment only after performing a comprehensive diagnosis. It is important to get the correct diagnosis, as treatment for bacterial, fungal, and viral infections varies slightly.

Respiratory diseases can occur in acute and chronic forms. In this case, the erased form of the disease may occur with insufficiently expressed symptoms. The acute course of the disease is characterized by the fact that the signs are quite pronounced and cause great concern among parents. In the chronic form of pathologies, the symptoms of respiratory diseases are very often ignored. This is dangerous because various kinds of complications can arise.

Self-medication can also lead to dangerous consequences. Often, home treatment includes remedies that eliminate unpleasant symptoms, but do not affect the very cause of the disease.


The child has swelling of the throat; swelling is treated depending on the causes of the pathology. Acute asphyxia requires a tracheotomy. To eliminate symptoms, medications are used that can help alleviate the patient’s condition. These are general strengthening, antihistamine and antipyretic drugs. The drugs are used only when prescribed by the attending physician.

First aid

No one is immune from this problem. Therefore, parents should know how to behave. Rule No. 1 - first aid for swelling of the larynx in a child should be provided immediately. Before the ambulance arrives, the patient should be given an antihistamine (Zodiac, Cetrin, Suprastinex or any other drugs). Therapy with these drugs helps prevent complications and relieve swelling.

Clinical picture

An allergic disease accompanied by edema has an acute onset. With food allergies, swelling of the tongue may first occur, and then the larynx.

In the presence of viral or bacterial inflammation, there are signs of intoxication of the body and symptoms characteristic of damage to the nasopharynx.

  • Increased body temperature from 37.0 to 39.0 degrees;
  • Increased fatigue;
  • Aches in bones and muscles;
  • Headache;
  • Increased sweating;
  • A sore throat;
  • Runny nose in the presence of damage to the nasal mucosa;
  • Cough. At the beginning of the disease, the cough is dry, and then it becomes productive;
  • Upon examination, you can detect inflammation (swelling, hyperemia, granularity) of the posterior wall of the pharynx, mucous membranes of the tongue, and tonsils (with sore throat).

After prolonged tracheal intubation during complex operations, tissue swelling may occur. It appears as a result of prolonged pressure on the mucous membranes.

Regardless of the cause, edema and stenosis are characterized by the presence of the following symptoms:

  • Pain when swallowing;
  • Soreness and discomfort along the back wall of the nasopharynx and in the neck area;
  • Feeling of a foreign body in the throat;
  • Dryness of mucous membranes when swallowing food;
  • Lowering the timbre of the voice;
  • Hoarseness of the voice may be replaced by a complete absence of voice (aphonia);
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Paroxysmal cough, “barking” cough.

Later, as the stenosis increases, the patient begins to complain that it is difficult for him to breathe.

The patient lacks oxygen, this manifests itself in the form of:

  • Increased shortness of breath;
  • Breathing becomes noisy, sometimes with a whistling component;
  • Cyanosis of the nasolabial triangle and distal phalanges of the fingers appears;
  • The skin turns pale;
  • The appearance of severe tachycardia;
  • Anxiety in human behavior.

When the patient is not provided timely assistance, the acute lesion increases and the patient not only finds it difficult to breathe.

He may lose consciousness, and a complete lack of breathing may develop. If help is not provided, death is possible.


Preventing swelling of the larynx in children is much easier than treating it later. For this purpose, it is necessary to carry out prevention in order to prevent the development of the problem. Parents should ensure that children eat only from clean dishes and protect them from hypothermia. People with good immunity get sick less often than their peers. Vitamins, minerals and a healthy lifestyle will ensure good health for your child and protect them from health problems.

I write articles in various areas that, to one degree or another, affect such a disease as edema.

First aid for swelling of the larynx of allergic origin

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Allergic swelling of the pharynx and larynx, without exaggeration, is life-threatening. Therefore, the first thing you can do in such a situation is to call an ambulance.

During this time, it is important to try to alleviate the patient’s condition by eliminating contact with the allergen:

  1. If an allergic reaction occurs to food or medicine, rinse your stomach immediately. If a person is bitten by an insect, remove the sting (if there is one) and suck out the poison.
  2. Place the patient on a flat surface, elevate his legs with a pillow; unbutton your clothes; Open the window.
  3. If the swelling is the result of a food allergy, the person needs to take a sorbent: Smecta, Enterosgel, activated carbon, or others. If you have an allergic reaction to insect bites, you should bandage the bite site with a tourniquet (if possible).
  4. Offer the patient to drink as much as possible - liquid, preferably ordinary drinking water, will dilute the allergen content in the blood and activate the kidneys to remove it from the body.
  5. Apply a heating pad with ice to the patient's throat - the cold will stop the development of swelling and relieve suffocation. Give him a hot foot bath.
  6. Give the person a hyposensitizing (antiallergic) drug: Claritin, Fenkarol, Suprastin, Tavegil, Zyrtec or another. The tablets must be chewed so that the active substance penetrates in sufficient quantities into the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and pharynx. By the way, antihistamines should be mandatory components of your first aid kit, especially if someone in the house is prone to allergies.
  7. In case of acute allergic swelling of the airways, artificial respiration may be necessary.

Laryngeal edema can develop in anyone, regardless of age. However, children are most often susceptible to this pathology. Doctors recommend that parents of children with allergies learn how to make injections themselves and keep glucocorticoid hormonal medications with prednisone or dexamethasone in the medicine cabinet. In a critical situation, an intramuscular injection of one of these drugs is performed to stabilize the child's condition.

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