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Mastoiditis in Children

What is mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis is an inflammation or infection of the mastoid bone. This bone is one of the bones in the head. It is located behind the ear. The mastoid bone is made of cells that drain the middle ear. Mastoiditis may be mild or very serious.

What causes mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis is a complication of a middle ear infection. It happens when the infection in the middle ear spreads into the mastoid bone.

What are the symptoms of mastoiditis?

Here are the most common symptoms of mastoiditis:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling behind the ear
  • Ear pain
  • An ear lobe that sticks out because of swelling of the mastoid bone
  • Fever
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Headache
  • Hearing loss

The symptoms of mastoiditis may look like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is mastoiditis diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask questions about your child’s health history and current symptoms. He or she will examine your child. The provider will pay close attention to the ears, nose, and throat. He or she will use a lighted instrument called an otoscope to look at the middle ear. Your child may need an X-ray and CT scans of the mastoid area. Fluid from the middle ear may be sent to the lab to be checked.

How is mastoiditis treated?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment usually includes antibiotic medicine and draining the middle ear. Your child may need ear tubes. Your child may need to stay in the hospital. Some children may need other surgery.

What are the complications of mastoiditis?

Possible complications include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Serious infection in nearby tissue
  • Facial nerve damage
  • Inner ear problems
  • Inflammation or infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)

Mastoiditis is usually treated by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. It is very important for your child to go to all follow-up appointments to check for hearing problems and other complications.

Can mastoiditis be prevented?

Mastoiditis is a complication of a middle ear infection. So it is important to treat an ear infection before it spreads to the mastoid bone.

Key points about mastoiditis

  • Mastoiditis is an inflammation or infection of the mastoid bone.
  • Mastoiditis is a complication of a middle ear infection. It happens when the infection in the middle ear spreads into the mastoid bone.
  • Treatment of mastoiditis usually includes antibiotic medicine and draining the middle ear.
  • Mastoiditis is usually treated by an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
  • Complications can include hearing loss, facial nerve damage, and meningitis. So it is very important for your child to go to all follow-up appointments to check for hearing problems and other complications.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.
Mastoiditis in Children - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Last Review Date: 2015-06-02T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2016-07-28T00:00:00
Published Date: 2016-07-28T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2016 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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