5 Epiglottitis Nursing Care Plans


Epiglottitis is the acute inflammation of the epiglottis and surrounding laryngeal area with the associated edema that needs an emergency situation as the supraglottic area becomes obstructed. Commonly caused by Haemophilus influenzae type B, it affects children ages 2 to 7 years.

Children experiencing epiglottis typically appear ill with a high fever, sudden sore throat, muffled voice, rapid respirations, and prefers on sitting upright with the chin extended and mouth open. Drooling is common due to dysphagia and respiratory distress is progressive as the obstruction advances. Once epiglottitis is suspected, no examination of the oropharynx is initiated until emergency equipment and personnel are readily available.

The child may need endotracheal intubation or tracheostomy for some cases of severe respiratory distress. Onset is rapid (over 4-12 hours) and breathing pattern usually re-established within 72 hours following intubation and antimicrobial regimen.

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing care planning goals of a child with epiglottitis consists in providing the child with immediate emergency care to avoid the development of further complications. Other goals for the client with epiglottitis are maintaining airway patency, achieving thermoregulation, relieving anxiety, conserving energy to decrease oxygen requirements, enhancing parental/caregiver knowledge and absence of complications.

Here are five (5) nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnosis for epiglottitis:

  1. Ineffective Airway Clearance
  2. Hyperthermia
  3. Anxiety
  4. Deficient Knowledge (Preventive Care)
  5. Risk For Suffocation

Ineffective Airway Clearance

Nursing Diagnosis

May be related to

  • Obstruction associated with edema and excessive mucus production in the upper airways

Possibly evidenced by

  • Sudden high fever
  • Muffled voice
  • Sore throat
  • Dyspnea
  • Drooling
  • Dysphagia
  • Decreased breath sounds
  • Rapid breathing with respiratory distress
  • Bright red epiglottis with edema

Desired Outcomes

  • The child’s airway will remain clear.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Assess respiratory rate, effort, pattern, and depth.Nasal flaring, rapid breathing, dyspnea, chest retractions, and apnea signifies severe respiratory distress that requires immediate airway support.
Auscultate lungs for the presence of normal or adventitious lung sounds.Absent or decreased lung sounds may reveal the presence of a mucous plug or airway obstruction. Stridor is a late ominous sign of epiglottitis that indicates emergency airway management.
Use pulse oximetry to monitor oxygen saturation; assess arterial blood gases (ABGs)Pulse oximetry is used to detect changes in oxygenation. Oxygen saturation should be maintained at 90% or greater. Alteration in ABGS may result in increased pulmonary secretions and respiratory fatigue.
Encourage oral intake by offering warm, clear fluids.Adequate hydration liquifies thick mucus/secretions.
Position the child in a sitting up and leaning forward position with mouth open and tongue out (“tripod” position).Allows maximum entry of air into the lungs for improved oxygenation.
Administer humidified oxygenChildren need moist air to decrease the epiglottal inflammation and facilitates expectoration.
Administer IV antibiotics as ordered.After obtaining blood and epiglottic cultures, second-or-third generation cephalosporins and beta-lactamase resistant antibiotic should be started as soon as possible.
Prepare for intubation or tracheostomy; Anticipate the need of an artificial airway.An artificial airway is required to promote oxygenation and ventilation and prevent aspiration.

Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

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See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Other nursing care plans for pediatric conditions and diseases:


Paul Martin is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2007. Having worked as a medical-surgical nurse for five years, he handled different kinds of patients and learned how to provide individualized care to them. Now, his experiences working in the hospital is carried over to his writings to help aspiring students achieve their goals. He is currently working as a nursing instructor and have a particular interest in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health. As a writer at Nurseslabs, his goal is to impart his clinical knowledge and skills to students and nurses helping them become the best version of themselves and ultimately make an impact in uplifting the nursing profession.