If you have been diagnosed with epiglottitis, the following are five more questions you may wish to discuss with your physician:
1. Are any other lines of treatment given or recommended that I might need to take?
• At times an endotracheal intubation 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 confirmed diagnosis of epiglottitis. They do this differential diagnosis for laryngitis, croup, inhaled obstructions, pharyngitis, and 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 percent 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.
2. Will I suffer from any adverse effects of the treatment or the infection itself?
Remember that epiglottitis as an infection suppresses your immune system rapidly and affects the heart, brain, joints and lungs within hours.
3. Are there any lifestyle changes I will need to make after recovery?
Yes. It will help to minimize smoking or exposure to places with suspended air particles in air or pollution. Your doctor will guide you to your lifestyle changes. However, it will be wise to use a saline or tepid plain water gargle after visiting such places as pubs, cinema halls, etc. If you experience breathing discomfort, you should raise the incline of the head side of your bed to roughly about 30 degrees and report to your doctor at the first opportunity.
4. What is the outlook for epiglottitis patients like me?