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Epiglottitis

Prevention continued...

Preventive medication (rifampin, Rifadin) should be given to all household contacts of a child who has been exposed to H influenza and who:

  • Is under age 4 years and has not received all the Hib vaccinations
  • Is under 12 months and has not finished the first series of Hib vaccine
  • Has a weakened immune system.

This is to make sure that both the person with the illness and the rest of the household have the bacteria completely eradicated from their bodies. This prevents formation of a "carrier state" in which a person has the bacteria in the body but is not actively sick. Carriers can still spread the infection to other family members.

Outlook

A person with epiglottitis can recover very well with a good prognosis if the condition is caught early and treated in time. In fact, a good majority of people with epiglottitis do well and recover without problems. But if the person was not brought to the hospital early and was not appropriately diagnosed and treated, the prognosis may range from poor with prolonged physical handicap to death.

  • Before 1973, 32% of adults with epiglottitis died from the disease. With current vaccination programs along with earlier recognition and treatment, the overall death rate from epiglottitis is estimated to be less than 1%. The death rate from epiglottitis in adults is higher than that of children because the condition can be misdiagnosed since other diseases can look much like epiglottitis.
  • Epiglottitis can also 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 it 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, often with respiratory failure).

Multimedia

Media file 1: Location of the epiglottis.

Media type: Illustration

Synonyms and Keywords

epiglottis, acute supraglottitis, thermal epiglottitis, peritonsillar abscess, croup, H influenzae type b, Hib, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus parainfluenzae,varicella-zoster, herpes simplex virus type 1, Staphylococcus aureus, inspiratory stridor, laryngoscopy, epiglottitis

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on October 25, 2013
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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