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Ask the Expert: Rare condition causes bad sore throat

CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- Local 12 received a great question submitted from a viewer about a rare condition that can  cause a bad sore throat and alter your voice.
George Washington may be the most famous person known to have this, according to medical historians.

Dr. Umesh Marathe, an ENT specialist, said, "He had a muffled voice, couldn't speak, and severe sore throat, couldn't take in fluids, and probably succumbed to epiglottitis."

Acute epiglottitis, Doctor Marathe says, starts as a viral infection that becomes bacterial.  It used to be seen mainly in women and children until a vaccine in the 80's nearly wiped it out.  The lower throat becomes inflamed and can cut off breathing.  It can get so bad that you can't swallow your spit.

A couple things Dr. Marathe wants to note about this; first of all, it is not common.  So he wants the public to be more alert but not alarmed.  He also says right now this disease is seen more often in men in their forties than in young women and children.  Marathe says it's important to know the early warning signs so you can seek appropriate treatment because if caught early, it is very treatable.

That treatment generally involves IV antibiotics administered in an intensive care unit.  The good news is if you catch the symptoms early, within 24 hours you can turn acute epiglottitis around.

If you have a question for providers at TriHeatlh CLICK HERE to Ask the Expert.




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