Woman’s horror tooth infection leaves her in a coma

Caitlin Alsop was only 23 when she went to bed one night in August last year and felt like she couldn't breathe.

Her aunt rushed her to hospital in a panic, where Ms Alsop was put into an induced coma for nine days as puzzled doctors investigated her symptoms

"My 3 symptoms that no GP could detect? A burnt tongue feeling that night, red rash on my face and sleeping constantly," she shared on Facebook.

"Mum was told to prepare for the worst, and the family all came to see me," Ms Alsop told The Courier Mail.

"It was like I'm being strangled alive," Ms Alsop recalled.

Ms Alsop spent nine days in a coma on life support. Picture: Supplied.
Ms Alsop spent nine days in a coma on life support. Picture: Supplied.

Ms Alsop spent nine days in a coma on life support, desperately fighting for her life while around 100 specialists at Gold Coast University Hospital ran countless tests and scans, trying to figure out what was wrong with her.

After multiple tests, doctors discovered Ms Alsop had been suffering from a rare life-threatening oral infection called Ludwig's Angina for months.

The extremely rare condition - which can occur after a tooth abscess - likely stemmed from Ms Alsop's infected wisdom tooth.

The infection spread from a wisdom tooth she didn’t know she had to her entire jaw. Picture: Supplied.
The infection spread from a wisdom tooth she didn’t know she had to her entire jaw. Picture: Supplied.

Sufferers are essentially strangled from within as excessive swelling in the mouth and throat obstructs the airway.

"My tongue had turned completely black and my airways were compromised because it was so swollen," Ms Alsop told 7 News.

The rash was caused by sepsis - an infection in the blood.

Leaping into action, doctors worked quickly to remove the infected tooth before placing drains in Ms Alsop's neck to relieve the swelling.

 

View this post on Instagram

Let's make a difference! Note: Everyone is okay but please read 💕. The thing about a medical emergency 🚨 is it can strike at any moment, and often we're not prepared 😱. We never think it will happen to us 🤷‍♀️. Tonight, I realised 2 things ➡️ Firstly, just how important it is to know the basics of first aid 💉...because honestly, when panic hit, I really knew nothing and felt helpless. ➡️ Secondly, just how amazing our medical professionals really are 🙏🙏 - they're calm and caring when we panic and what we call 'trauma' is something they deal with everyday 😱. In the call centres, first responders, trainers, doctors and nurses- we are all so blessed to have you there at those critical moments 🙏. This was a minor accident with someone close to me and I panicked, but thankfully, I was able to call on this team of amazing people and they knew what to do and they do it so calmly and professionally. So, I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all the medical professionals out there - and if you know someone in the field, feel free to tag them or share with your own story. Shout them a coffee or do something to just make them feel special because they deserve it and together we can make a difference 💕. #thankyou #firstresponders #000 #doctors #nurses #grattitude #goldcoast #scrubs #comatoconfidence #icu #sepsissurvivor #goldcoastnurses #australiannurses #nursememe

A post shared by Caite 💫 Coma to Confidence (@comatoconfidence) on

 

"Prior to my hospital admission, I had seen various doctors, and had tests, but no-one had realised a deadly infection was silently ravaging me from the inside out," a shaken Ms Alsop told 7 News.

"I hadn't experienced any pain and I'd always maintained good oral hygiene."

Ms Alsop says the road to recovery has been long and she was left with scars and a permanent lisp from the incident, but insists the traumatic experience changed her.

"I realise how lucky I am to be here," she said.

"It's one of those experiences you never expect to happen, but you have the choice to let it ruin you, or let it build you.

And I've chosen to let it build me."

Originally published as Woman's mystery illness leads to coma

Drains had to be placed in Ms Alsop’s neck to relieve the swelling. Picture: Supplied.
Drains had to be placed in Ms Alsop’s neck to relieve the swelling. Picture: Supplied.


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