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Epiglottitis (cont.)

Epiglottitis Prognosis

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 resulting 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).

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCES: Epiglottitis.

Berg S, Trollfors B, Nylen O, Hugosson S, Prellner K, Carenfelt C. Incidence, aetiology, and prognosis of acute epiglottitis in children and adults in Sweden. Scand J Infect Dis. 1996;28(3):261-4. Pediatric Epiglottitis.

Up-to-Date. Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Treatment and prevention.

Previous contributing authors and editors: Author: Gerald E Maloney, Jr, DO, Attending Physician, Clinical Instructor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, John Stroger Hospital of Cook County. Coauthor(s): William R Fraser, DO, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine; Program Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, Doctors Hospital. Editors: Marian Gambrell, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, St Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University; Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Senior Pharmacy Editor, eMedicine; James S Cohen, MD, Consulting Staff, James Cohen, PC.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/26/2016
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