Ludwig's angina is an infection of the floor of the mouth under the tongue. It is due to bacteria.
Submandibular space infection; Sublingual space infection
Ludwig's angina is a type of skin infection that occurs on the floor of the mouth, under the tongue. It often develops after an infection of the roots of the teeth (such as tooth abscess) or a mouth injury.
This condition is uncommon in children.
The infected area swells quickly. This may block the airway or prevent you from swallowing saliva.
Unusual speech (sounds like the person has a "hot potato" in the mouth)
Tongue swelling or protrusion of the tongue out of the mouth
A sample of the fluid from the tissue may be sent to the lab to test for bacteria.
If the swelling blocks the airway, you need to get emergency medical help right away. A breathing tube may needed to be placed through your mouth or nose and into the lungs to restore breathing. You may need to have surgery called a tracheostomy that creates an opening through the neck into the windpipe.
Antibiotics are given to fight the infection. They are most often given through a vein until symptoms go away. Antibiotics taken by mouth may be continued until tests show that the bacteria have gone away.
Dental treatment may be needed for tooth infections that cause Ludwig's angina.
Surgery may be needed to drain fluids that are causing the swelling.
Ludwig's angina can be life-threatening. It can be cured with getting treatment to keep the airways open and taking antibiotic medicine.
Sumana Jothi MD, otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, airway, voice, and swallowing disorders, clinical instructor UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.