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The Rare Illness Sarah Silverman Almost Died From

author image Deborah Day
Deborah Day is a lifestyle and entertainment writer and editor. Former editor in chief of and executive editor of, she has been published on,,, and other media sites, as well as in Maxim, Interview and Time Out NY magazines.
The Rare Illness Sarah Silverman Almost Died From
Sarah Silverman attends the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards with actor Michael Sheen. Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Comedian Sarah Silverman is now recovering after spending five days in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and requiring surgery for epiglottitis this week.

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"I am insanely lucky to be alive," Silverman told her Facebook followers on Wednesday.

"Don't even know why I went to the doctor, it was just a sore throat. But I had a freak case of epiglottitis," the Masters of Sex actress posted. "They couldn't put me fully to sleep for the recovery process because my blood pressure's too low. I was drugged just enough to not feel the pain and have no idea what was happening or where I was."

Sarah Silverman described her illness on Facebook.
Sarah Silverman described her illness on Facebook. Photo Credit:

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What Is Epiglottitis?

Epiglottitis is inflammation of the epiglottis, the tissue that covers the trachea, and is a rare, but life-threatening disease. The epiglottis is the cartilage at the back of your tongue that closes to prevent food from entering your windpipe when you swallow. Swelling of this stiff, flexible tissue is usually caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae (H. influenzae), according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus, but may be caused by other bacteria or viruses.

"Epiglottitis is now very uncommon because the H. influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine is a routine childhood immunization," according to MedlinePlus. "The disease was once most often seen in children ages 2 through 6. In rare cases, epiglottitis can occur in adults."

Symptoms include abnormal breathing sounds, fever, blue skin color, drooling, difficulty breathing and swallowing and hoarseness.

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Silverman thanked her doctors and the Cedars staff, as well as friends and family who stayed with her during the ordeal and related some of her post-op humor.

"When I first woke up and the breathing tube came out, I still couldn't talk and they gave me a board of letters to communicate," she wrote. "My loved ones stood there, so curious what was going to be the first thing I had to say. They followed my finger, rapt, as I pointed from letter to letter until I finally spelled out, 'Did you see 'Hello My Name is Doris.''"

What Do YOU Think?

Are you surprised about this news about Sarah Silverman? Why or why not? Have you had a run-in with epiglottitis? Or had a seemingly minor affliction turn out to be a rare and lethal disease caught just in time? Tell us in the comments!

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