The number one priority for patients with epiglottitis is to maintain a patent airway.
Patients should be positioned in an upright or sitting position to ease the work of breathing and to ensure that the airway is not compromised any further.
Humidified oxygen can be administered to patients to decrease restlessness and agitation due to inadequate oxygenation.
Intubation and tracheostomy supplies should be available at the bedside in case an artificial airway needs to be established immediately.
Intravenous antibiotics will be given to treat those cases where bacterial infection is suspected. Typically, inflammation of the airway begins to decrease after 24 hours of drug therapy.
Measures should be taken to decrease the patient’s anxiety, as anxiety may worsen existing respiratory distress.
Patients with epiglottitis should receive nothing by mouth (NPO) until the condition is resolved, and the airway is no longer compromised.
The Hib vaccine is available to protect against Haemophilus influenzae type b, and should be given to infants in three to four divided doses starting at the age of two months.
If an artificial airway is indicated, restraints may be applied to the patient’s wrists to prevent unintended extubation.
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