Treatment of epiglottis involves first making sure you or your child can breathe, and then treating any identified infection.
Helping you breathe
The first priority in treating epiglottitis is ensuring that you or your child is receiving enough air. This may mean:
- Wearing a mask. The mask delivers oxygen to the lungs.
- Having a breathing tube placed into the windpipe through the nose or mouth (intubation). The tube must remain in place until the swelling in your or your child's throat has decreased — sometimes for several days.
- Inserting a needle into the trachea (needle tracheostomy). In extreme cases or if more conservative measures fail, the doctor may need to create an emergency airway by inserting a needle directly into an area of cartilage in your or your child's trachea. This procedure allows air into your lungs while bypassing the larynx.
If your epiglottitis is related to an infection, intravenous antibiotics will be given once you or your child is getting enough air.
Oct. 02, 2012
- Broad-spectrum antibiotic. Because of the need for quick treatment, rather than wait for the results of the blood and tissue cultures, you or your child is likely to be treated with a broad-spectrum drug.
- More targeted antibiotic. The drug may be changed later, depending on what's causing the epiglottitis.
- Epiglottitis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/print/sec08/ch090/ch090l.html. Accessed May 17, 2012.
- Is your child protected against Hib? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HibDisease/. Accessed May 17, 2012.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-hib.pdf. Accessed May 19, 2012.
- Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6582059. Accessed May 17, 2012.
- Grover C. Thumb sign of epiglottitis. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;365:447.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9097038. Accessed May 17, 2012.
- Lalwani AK. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=55768949. Accessed May 17, 2012.
- Kavanagh KR, et al. Traumatic epiglottitis after foreign body ingestion. Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 2008;72:901.
- Shah RK, et al. Epiglottitis in the United States: National trends, variances, prognosis and management. Laryngoscope. 2010;120:1256.
- Valdez-Lowe C, et al. Pulse oximetry in adults. American Journal of Nursing. 2009;109:52.