A 78-year-old female patient presented to our emergency department with a 5-day history of throat pain, hoarseness and a progressive and dolorous submandibular swelling. Due to non-conclusive clinical examination and the stable but visibly affected patient, we performed a neck CT scan with intravenous contrast, which showed the thumbprint sign typical for acute epiglottitis. Within minutes, the patient's condition deteriorated and the patient was close to respiratory exhaustion. As intubation was severely complicated by massive swelling of the supraglottic soft tissue, the patient went into hypoxaemia and eventually cardiac arrest. After initiating reanimation protocol, eventually the airway was secured and Return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) achieved after around 5 min. The initially sampled blood cultures revealed bactera emia and the patient was successfully treated accordingly. In patients with swelling of the upper airway, rapid clinical deterioration is possible. Diagnostics should not delay therapy, including administration of empiric antibiotics, steroids and intubation.