Acute laryngotracheobronchitis in children is characterized by an abundant secretion of a thick, viscid, sticky material by the mucosa of the tracheobronchial tree. Such abnormal exudate tends to lose its water content to the breathed air, becomes more and more viscid until, finally, crusts are formed on the surface of the mucosa. The bronchial secretions may become sufficiently viscid to obstruct the bronchial tree, and such bronchial obstruction is responsible for obstructive atelectasis and obstructive emphysema, so frequently observed in this condition. Death in acute laryngotracheobronchitis, which still occurs in 20% of cases, is most frequently due to suffocation from bronchial obstruction.
To prevent bronchial obstruction steps must, therefore, be taken to counteract the tendency of the tracheobronchial exudate to become too viscid and eventually crusty and thus facilitate the expulsion of the exudate from the tracheobronchial tree by the cough of the patient. Atmospheric humidification has been used
FRIEDMAN A. Therapeutic Air Humidification: Its Rationale in Acute Laryngotracheobronchitis in Children. AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1955;62(5):471–477. doi:10.1001/archotol.1955.03830050013003
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