John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Currently, immediate hospitalization is required whenever the diagnosis of epiglottitis is suspected
since the person is in danger of sudden and unpredictable closing of the airway. So doctors must establish a secure way for the person to breathe. Antibiotics may be
prescribed to the patient.
Initial treatment of epiglottitis may consist of making the patient as comfortable as possible including placing an ill child in a dimly lit room with the parent holding the child, humidified oxygen, and close monitoring. If there are no signs of respiratory distress, IV fluids may be helpful. It is important to prevent anxiety because it may lead to an acute airway obstruction, especially in children.
People with possible signs of airway obstruction require laryngoscopy in the operating room with proper staff and airway intervention equipment. In severe cases, the doctor may need to perform a cricothyrotomy (cutting the neck to insert a breathing tube directly into the windpipe).
IV antibiotics may effectively control inflammation and clear infection from the body. Antibiotics usually are prescribed to treat the most common types of bacteria. Blood cultures usually are obtained with the premise that any organism found growing in the blood can be attributed as the cause of the epiglottitis.
Corticosteroids and epinephrine are used, but there is no good evidence these medications are helpful in cases of epiglottitis.