Alternative Names

Bacterial tracheitis; Acute bacterial tracheitis

Definition of Tracheitis

Tracheitis is a bacterial infection of the windpipe (trachea).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Bacterial tracheitis is most often caused by the bacteria It frequently follows a recent . It affects mostly young children, possibly because their small trachea is easily blocked by swelling.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and listen to the child’s lungs. The muscles between the ribs may pull in as the child tries to breathe. This is called .


The child often needs to have a tube placed into the airways to help with breathing. This is called an endotracheal tube.

Expectations (prognosis)

With prompt treatment, the child should recover.


Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/23/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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