Epiglottitis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Epiglottitis is pain and swelling of the epiglottis. The epiglottis is a flap of tissue at the back of the throat. It closes when you swallow. This prevents food and fluids from getting into the trachea, or windpipe.

The disease can be life-threatening. The swollen epiglottis can quickly block the windpipe. This makes breathing difficult.

Epiglottitis begins suddenly. A child with the disease appears very sick and has a fever and trouble breathing. Your child's voice may be muffled, and he or she may have trouble swallowing and may drool.

Different infections can cause the disease.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Signs may include the chest sinking in, using belly muscles to breathe, or nostrils flaring while your child is struggling to breathe.
  • Your child has severe trouble swallowing. Signs may include drooling, or your child may refuse to eat or drink.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.