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.
A person with epiglottitis can recover very well if the condition is caught early and treated in time. A majority of people with epiglottitis do well and recover without problems. But if the person was not
taken to the hospital early, and was not appropriately diagnosed and treated, the prognosis is poor with the possibilities of prolonged physical handicap and even death.
Before the Hib vaccine, mortality rates from epiglottitis were much higher. With current vaccination programs along with earlier recognition and treatment, the overall death rate from epiglottitis is estimated to be less than 0.89% - approximately 36 cases per year. The death rate from epiglottitis in adults is higher than that of children because the condition may be misdiagnosed.
Epiglottitis also can occur with other infections in adults, such as pneumonia. Most commonly, it is misdiagnosed as a strep throat. However, if it is suspected and treated appropriately, full recovery can be anticipated. Most of the deaths come from failure to diagnose epiglottitis in a timely fashion and obstruction of the airway. As with any serious infection, bacteria may enter the blood, a condition called bacteremia, which may result in infections in other systems and sepsis (severe infection with shock, and often respiratory failure).