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Tenderness over the hyoid bone can indicate epiglottitis in adults.

Adult acute epiglottitis is a rare but life-threatening disease caused by obstruction of the airway. The symptoms and signs of this disease may be nonspecific without apparent airway compromise. We encountered 3 consecutive cases of adult patients with this disease in a single 5-month period in one physician's office. In all cases, physical examination revealed tenderness of the anterior neck over the hyoid bone. These observations assisted us in identifying this rare disease quickly. We suggest that tenderness over the hyoid bone should raise suspicion of adult acute epiglottitis.

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