management of epiglottitis

Last reviewed 01/2018

Acute epiglotitis is a paediatric emergency. Management and treatment is as follows.


  • panic
  • alarm the parents or child
  • examine the child in any way - especially do not try to visualize the epiglottitis using a tongue depressor


  • call a senior anaesthetist, paediatrician and ENT surgeon
  • alert theatres or ICU; the child needs to be admitted immediately

If respiratory arrest appears to be intervening before the senior help arrives, nebulised adrenaline can be used; this buys time but does not solve the underlying problem.

Diagnostically radiology is rarely required, and delaying treatment in order to image the child is inappropriate.