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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Diagnosis

Epiglottitis is an emergency. If you think your child has this infection, seek emergency help immediately. Never try to look down the throat of a person who is suspected of having epiglottitis. Pressing on the tongue to look down the throat may cause the epiglottis to swell even more and further block the airway.

X-rays of the neck sometimes can show an enlarged epiglottis, but the time needed to take the X-rays may delay other important tests and treatment.

After doctors in the hospital confirm that the epiglottis is inflamed, the airway is kept open using a breathing tube. Blood tests and/or throat swabs are done to determine which organism is causing the infection.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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