Skip to Content
Vaccines aren’t just for kids. Is your teen protected?

Acute Epiglottitis


Epiglottitis is swelling of the epiglottis. The epiglottis is the flap of tissue at the back of your tongue. Epiglottitis is most commonly caused by a bacteria called Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). The epiglottis opens when you breathe and closes when you swallow. When the epiglottis swells, it can block your airway. This condition is a medical emergency.



  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine: You may use over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for your pain. These may be bought at grocery and drug stores. Ask your caregiver before taking OTC medicine if you are also taking pain medicine ordered (prescribed) for you.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent acute epiglottitis from happening again:

  • Wash your hands often: Encourage everyone in your household to wash their hands with soap and water after they use the bathroom or change a child's diaper. They should also wash their hands before they prepare food or eat. This will help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Hib vaccine: You may need the Hib vaccine to help decrease your chance of getting epiglottitis again. Ask your healthcare provider if you need this vaccine.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a fever, sore throat, and a hoarse or muffled voice.
  • You have harsh, raspy breathing.
  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You are drooling because you cannot swallow.
  • Your lips, skin, or fingernails are blue, gray, or white.
  • You are restless and anxious.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.