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Medical Emergency - Stridor is an obstruction of the upper airway. It's really bad. Do something about it.


A high-pitched sound resulting from turbulent airflow in the upper airway.




When you breath normally, you just have normal breath sounds. However, when you swallow an object like a penny or a horseshoe, it makes the airflow through your upper airways turbulent, making the funny noise poorly described in the definition.

Differential Diagnosis

It's basically one of four major things:

Clinical and Associated Features

  • If it's a foreign body, hopefully, that'll be in the history.
  • Epiglottitis - if suspected, do not examine the throat. Call an anaesthetist and get airway access immediately. The child will be quiet and not moving in order to maintain the airway.
  • Anaphylaxis - besides breathlessness, oedema (larynx, lids, lips, tongues), cyanosis, wheeze, urticaria
  • Airway trauma will hopefully be evident with a history of trauma.


No time for investigations - all of these are emergencies and need airway access (apart from possibly foreign body). Then, management differs for each one (check out the individual pages).