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Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Treatment and prevention

Charles R Woods, MD, MS
Section Editors
Morven S Edwards, MD
Glenn C Isaacson, MD, FAAP
Gary R Fleisher, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


Epiglottitis is inflammation of the epiglottis and adjacent supraglottic structures [1]. Without treatment, epiglottitis can progress to life-threatening airway obstruction. A rapid overview of the recognition and management in children is provided in the table (table 1).

The treatment and prevention of epiglottitis will be reviewed here. The pathogenesis, etiology, and clinical features are discussed separately. (See "Epiglottitis (supraglottitis): Clinical features and diagnosis".)


General principles — There are two key aspects to the treatment of acute epiglottitis:

Maintenance of the airway

Administration of appropriate antimicrobial agents (it may be reasonable to withhold antibiotics in rare patients in whom the epiglottic edema is clearly known to be caused by inhalational, chemical, or thermal injury)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jun 23, 2015.
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