If the medical team suspects epiglottitis, the first priority is to ensure that your or your child's airway is open and that enough oxygen is getting through.
A pulse oximeter is a device that estimates blood oxygen levels. This device:
- Clips onto a finger
- Measures an estimation of the saturation of oxygen in your blood
If oxygen saturation levels drop too low, you or your child may need help breathing.
Tests after stabilizing breathing
Aug. 08, 2015
- Throat examination. Using a flexible fiber-optic-lighted tube, the doctor may look down your or your child's throat to see what's causing the symptoms. A local anesthetic can help relieve any discomfort.
- Chest or neck X-ray. Because of the danger of sudden breathing problems, children may have X-rays taken at their bedside rather than in the radiology department — but only after the airway is protected. With epiglottitis, the X-ray may reveal what looks like a thumbprint in the neck, an indication of an enlarged epiglottis.
- Throat culture and blood tests. For the culture, the epiglottis is wiped with a cotton swab and the tissue sample is checked for Hib. Blood cultures are usually taken because bacteremia — a severe bloodstream infection — may accompany epiglottitis.
- Epiglottitis. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear-nose-and-throat-disorders/oral-and-pharyngeal-disorders/epiglottitis. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- Protect your child against Hib disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HibDisease/. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/hib.html. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- Woods CR. Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- Woods CR. Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Treatment and prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- Hay WW, et al. Respiratory tract & mediastinum. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 22nd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- Knoop KJ, et al. Pediatric conditions. In: The Atlas of Emergency Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- Papadakis MA, et al., eds. Ear, nose, & throat disorders. In: Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2015. 54th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed July 24, 2015.
- AskMayoExpert. Upper respiratory tract infection (adult and pediatric). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 27, 2015.