An infection or injury causes epiglottitis. Infection In the past, a common cause of swelling and inflammation of the epiglottis and surrounding tissues was infection with Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria. Hib is responsible for other conditions, the most common being meningitis. Hib is now much less common in developed countries where children get Hib vaccines. Hib spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes droplets into the air. It's possible to have Hib in the nose and throat without becoming sick. But spreading it to others is still possible. In adults, other bacteria and viruses also can cause the epiglottis to swell. These include: Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). This bacterium can cause meningitis, pneumonia, ear infection and blood infection. Streptococcus A, B and C. This group of bacteria can cause diseases from strep throat to blood infection. Staphylococcus aureus. This bacterium causes skin infections and other diseases including pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome. Injury Rarely, physical injury, such as a blow to the throat, can cause epiglottitis. So can burns from drinking very hot liquids and breathing in smoke from a fire. Symptoms like those of epiglottitis can come from: Swallowing a chemical that burns the throat. Swallowing an object. Smoking drugs, such as crack cocaine. Smoking electronic cigarettes.