Epiglottitis is a rare disease. If you or your child experiences any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to epiglottitis. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. However, if you experience any one of them, see your physician.
- High fever (over 103°F)
- Sore throat and severe throat pain
- Difficulty swallowing with drooling
- Muffled voice
- Rapid breathing
- Increasingly difficult breathing
- Leaning forward and arching the neck backward to breathe
- Stridor (squeaky or raspy sounds while inhaling, caused by airway blockage)
Symptoms associated with low oxygen levels:
- Cyanosis (bluish tint to skin or lips)
Symptoms appear suddenly and worsen quickly.
Note: Do not attempt to use a tongue depressor or any other utensil to look into the person’s throat. A throat spasm could occur and cause the airway to close completely.
When you arrive at the hospital, the doctor will first make sure you are able to breathe. Once this is affirmed, the doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. If you are not having trouble breathing, the doctor may use a mirror to look down your throat. Usually, initial diagnosis and testing are based on the reported symptoms.
Tests that may be run include:
- Neck x-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of the neck, so the doctor can check for a swollen epiglottis
- Blood culture—to screen for bacteria
- Blood count—to document presence of bacterial infection
- Nasolaryngoscopy—a tiny, lighted tube inserted through the nose to look at structures like the epiglottitis
- Throat culture—A cotton swab is used to collect cells from the infected tissue; the cells are plated on a nutrient-rich medium and allowed to grow. The cells are then identified, and the results are given to the doctor.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2021 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.