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First Aid 2023

Edema of the glottis: what é, symptoms and what to do

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Edema of the glottis: what é, symptoms and what to do
Edema of the glottis: what é, symptoms and what to do

Edema of the glottis, scientifically known as angioedema of the larynx, is a complication that can arise during a severe allergic reaction and is characterized by swelling in the throat region.

This situation is considered a medical emergency, as the swelling affecting the throat can obstruct the flow of air to the lungs, preventing breathing. What to do in a case of glottic edema includes:

  1. Call for medical help calling SAMU 192;
  2. Ask if the person has any allergy medication, to take while waiting for help. Some people with severe allergies may even have an epinephrine pen, which should be given in a severe allergy situation;
  3. Preferably keep the person lying down, with the legs elevated, to facilitate blood circulation;
  4. Observe the person's vital signs, such as heartbeat and breathing, because if they are absent, cardiac massage will be required. Check out the step-by-step instructions on how to perform cardiac massage.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction come on quickly, within a few minutes to a few hours of exposure to the substance causing the allergy, including difficulty breathing, a lump in the throat, or wheezing when breathing.


Main symptoms

Symptoms of glottis edema are:

  • Feeling of lump in the throat;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Wheezing or a high-pitched noise while breathing;
  • Tight feeling in the chest;
  • Hoarseness;
  • Difficulty speaking.

There are other symptoms that usually accompany edema of the glottis and that are associated with the type of allergy, such as hives, with redness or itching of the skin, swollen eyes and lips, enlarged tongue, itchy throat, conjunctivitis or crisis of asthma, for example.

These symptoms usually appear within 5 minutes to 30 minutes after exposure to a substance that causes allergy, which can be a drug, a food, an insect bite, temperature changes or even a genetic predisposition, in patients with a disease called Hereditary Angioedema. Learn more about this disease here.

How the treatment is done

After evaluation by the medical team and confirmation of the risk of edema of the glottis, treatment is indicated, made with medications that will rapidly decrease the action of the immune system, and include the application of injections containing adrenaline, anti-allergic and steroids.

As there may be intense difficulty in breathing, it may be necessary to use an oxygen mask or even orotracheal intubation, in which a tube is placed through the person's throat to prevent breathing blocked by swelling.

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