At times an endotracheal inubation is done to keep the airway free during the procedure. Other supportive tests are a lateral C-spine X-ray or even an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
In their diagnosis, doctors usually use a quick process of elimination of other medical conditions before coming at the confirmative diagnosis of epiglottis. They do this differential diagnosis for laryngitis, croup, inhaled obstructions, pharyngitis, retropharyngeal abscesses.
Among the various treatment and management options available for epiglottitis is the endotracheal intubation which keeps the trachea (windpipe) from swelling shut until the medication is on with antibiotics. It is required in almost 30% of all epiglottitis patients.
In the more severe cases, where the intubation fails to get the desired results, a tracheotomy is performed. This is done as an emergency procedure by highly qualified doctors/surgeons at the hospital. Tracheotomy involves, cutting open a small slit at the front of the neck to insert the tube through the trachea directly.
Remember that epiglottitis as an infection suppresses your immune system rapidly and affects the heart, brain, joints and lungs within hours. It also causes spasm with excessive swelling of the epiglottis blocking your trachea that can cause death within minutes. For this reason alone, epiglottitis is considered a medical emergency.
Antibiotics prescribed for epiglottitis include the pencillin genre drugs or ampicillin chemical. Other drugs/chemicals used are ceftriaxone, cefuroxime, cefotaxime, cephalosporins, chloramphenicol, steroids, sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim*.
In most cases, complications do not arise if the diagnosis is done early in time and treated adequately. In some cases however, a wrong diagnosis or a late detection may result in development of more severe conditions such as pneumonia, septic arthritis, meningitis or pnemo-mediastinitis. Despite its severity epiglottitis is generally treated completely and successfully leaving no after effects or sequellae.
Prevention of epiglottitis is easy and effective through the routine vaccination Hib during childhood.