A New York father-of-two was shocked that was he thought was a simple toothache turned out to be a rare and deadly infection.
Michael Louisor, 48, from Brooklyn, began feeling pain in his ear around Father’s Day weekend last month.
However, he just decided to tough it out. The pain then moved from his ear into his gum, but he only took painkillers.
The next day, he woke up from a nap with a swollen neck, fighting for breath and unable to speak.
Louisor rushed to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with Ludwig’s angina, an oral infection the blocks airways and makes the sufferer feel like they are being choked or strangled.
Michael Louisor, 48, from Brooklyn, New York, began experiencing ear and tooth pain on Father’s Day last month. Within two days, his neck started swelling and he was having trouble speaking and breath. Pictured, left and right: Louisor in the hospital
He went to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with Ludwig’s angina, an oral infection that blocks the airways and can quickly turn fatal. Pictured: Louisor with his sons
Louisor told DailyMail.com that he didn’t think anything of the earache when he first started feeling the pain.
‘I thought I would just soldier through it,’ he said. ‘The next day it turned into a toothache. It was painful but I just took painkillers.’
However, his condition progressively got worse.
‘My chin was swollen and my speech was altered,’ Louisor said.
‘I was unable to hold down liquids and I was developing a fever also. My wife was like: “You need to go the emergency room”.’
Louisor drove himself to the emergency room at Mount Sinai Brooklyn in Midwood, where he was seen right away.
Dr Sam Huh, the chair of otolaryngologist at Mount Sinai Brooklyn, said Louisor had the classic symptoms of Ludwig’s angina.
‘My physician’s assistant had actually seen him, took a picture and sent it to me because this is a relatively rare disease,’ Dr Huh told DailyMail.com.
‘So when they told me it looked like Ludwig’s angina, and I saw the picture, I said oh no it is.’
Ludwig’s angina is a rare skin infection that usually begins under the tongue.
It typically begins after a mouth injury or a bacterial infection, such as a tooth abscess.
Symptoms include tongue swelling, neck pain, difficulty swallowing, drooling, speech problems and fatigue.
The infected area swells quickly and may block airways.
According to 2017 report from BMJ Case Reports, patients with Ludwig’s angina have a 50 percent chance of survival without intervention.
Doctors determined that a tooth infection in Louisor’s bottom left molar developed into the infection. Pictured: Louisor, right, with Dr Sam Huh, who treated him
Louisor was intubated for at least a week and stayed in the hospital for two weeks until the infection was stabilized. Pictured: Louisor with his wife and sons
Dr Huh said that when he first saw Louisor, he was having trouble swallowing and his voice was very muffled.
He was rushed into the operating room where he was intubated and, after he was intubated, Dr Huh made two small puncture wounds in neck to release any excess liquid.
A CT scan later determined that a tooth infection in Louisor’s lower left molar developed into the infection.
Dr Huh says the infection can turn life-threatening very quickly.
‘Even in a perfectly healthy individual it could turn fatal in the manner of a day,’ he said. For someone like Louisor: ‘Maybe within hours.’
Louisor spent two weeks in the hospital. By the time, he was discharged he had dropped 20 pounds from 300lbs to 282lbs.
He’s since stopped smoking – because smoking makes you vulnerable to infections and can prolong healing – and has gone on a diet.
He says he wants to encourage others to listen to their body if it’s giving them signs that something is wrong.
‘If you’re in pain, you can’t just soldier through,’ he said. ‘Don’t ignore what your body is telling you. I could have really died from this and it gave me a whole different perspective.’