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Differential diagnosis of upper airway obstruction

1 Collapse of airway due to muscle tone loss or build-up of secretions due to poor cough reflex:

O Depressed conscious level from any cause.

O Drug or alcohol intoxication or overdose.

O Bulbar palsy.

O Myopathy.

2 Airway inflammation and oedema:

O Infective:

— Upper respiratory tract infection in an infant.

— Viral croup.

— Bacterial tracheitis.

— Epiglottitis.

— Severe tonsillitis.

O Non-infective:

— Recurrent croup.

— Anaphylaxis.

3 Space-occupying lesion or structural abnormality:

O Intranasal, pharyngeal or in upper trachea:

— Adenoidal hypertrophy.

For diagnosis of a space-occupying lesion or structural abnormality, a specialist ENT examination under anaesthetic may be needed (if available).



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