What Are the Causes of Tracheitis?

Written by tracy morris | 13/05/2017
What Are the Causes of Tracheitis?
(Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer, Photo courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, No known restrictions on publication.)

Tracheitis is the inflammation and swelling of the trachea, or throat. It is characterised by upper respiratory problems and is most prevalent in children. Because of their smaller windpipes, tracheitis can be a serious condition in children, where swelling can restrict or completely block the air flow, causing a child to suffocate. There are several causes of tracheitis, including allergic reactions, trauma and bacterial sources.

Bacterial Tracheitis

Bacterial Tracheitis is caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Bacterial tracheitis is often contracted by patients recovering from a viral respiratory infection such as bronchitis. Treatment frequently involves inserting a breathing tube to aid in breathing, and reducing swelling through the use of antibiotics.


Tracheitis can sometimes be caused by irritation from a breathing tube inserted during treatment of other conditions, or during surgical procedures. When this occurs, the condition is called membranous tracheitis.

Allergic Reaction

During a severe allergic reaction, water can collect in the tissues surrounding the airway. This phenomenon, known as oedema, can constrict the breathing passageways. Patients who are prone to allergic reactions that can lead to tracheitis should take care not to exert themselves during periods of irritation, and should avoid the irritants in general.

Foreign Bodies

A patient may develop tracheitis after accidentally inhaling a substance that irritates the respiratory system. There are numerous substances that can irritate or damage the trachea, including foreign bodies (aspiration), gases or toxic fumes, and diseases such as anthrax.


Smoking can lead to a number of conditions that can cause tracheitis, including tumours or emphysema. These conditions will develop over time, and will be further exacerbated by continued smoking.

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