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Diagnosis, Treatment, and Complications

Diagnosis

Doctors usually diagnose Haemophilus influenzae, including H. influenzae type b or Hib, infection with one or more laboratory tests. The most common testing methods use a sample of body fluid, such as blood or spinal fluid.

Illustration of a lumbar puncture to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid

Lumbar puncture to collect sample of cerebrospinal fluid. Copyrighted image

©Teresa Winslow – US Government has certain rights

Treatment

Doctors treat H. influenzae, including Hib, disease with antibiotics, usually for 10 days.

People diagnosed with H. influenzae, including Hib, disease take antibiotics, usually for 10 days, to treat the infection. Depending on how serious the infection is, people with H. influenzae infection may need care in a hospital. Other treatments may include:

  • Breathing support
  • Medication to treat low blood pressure
  • Wound care for parts of the body with damaged skin

When H. influenzae cause milder infections, like bronchitis or ear infections, doctors may give antibiotics to prevent complications. Learn more about using antibiotics for these infections.

Complications

Even with appropriate treatment, some H. influenzae infections can result in long-term problems or death. For example, blood infections (bacteremia) can result in loss of limbs. Meningitis (infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord) can cause brain damage or hearing loss. A small number (3 to 6 in 100) of children with meningitis caused by Hib die from the disease.

Complications are rare and typically not severe for bronchitis and ear infections caused by H. influenzae.

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