Everything about Mastoiditis

An infection that affects the mastoid bone, located behind the ear.

Mastoiditis is usually caused by a middle ear infection. This infection can result in damage to the mastoid bone and the formation of pus-filled cysts.

It develops due to the inflammation or infection of the air cells in the mastoid bone as a consequence of untreated or unresolved middle ear infection called otitis media. This infection occurs more often in children than in adults

Usually, patients suffering from mastoiditis recover quickly when diagnosed and treated properly by ENT specialists. However, if the infection spreads outside the mastoid bone, it can result in serious consequences including permanent hearing loss, damage of facial nerve/facial paralysis, meningitis, bone infection (osteomyelitis), inflammation of the inner ear nerves (labyrinthitis), brain abscess and formation of blood clots (thrombosis).

Mastoiditis can be diagnosed by physical examination of the ear using an otoscope and culture of ear discharge, blood tests, CT scan/X-Ray/MRI and audiometric tests.

Symptoms of Mastoiditis

  • A feeling of pain and discomfort in or behind the ear
  • Signs of tenderness or redness behind the ear
  • Ear discharge
  • Swelling in the region behind the ears causing the protrusion of the earlobes
  • Spinning sensation and dizziness(vertigo)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Irritability/Fussiness
  • Exhaustion/Lethargy
  • Inflammation in the eyes
  • The weakening of facial muscles
  • Hearing loss in the affected ear
  • Bulging or drooping of the ear

Treatment of Mastoiditis

Resolving Mastoiditis involves ear infection treatment with antibiotics, ear drops and periodic ear cleaning. It is a serious condition which cannot be resolved completely only at home. In some acute cases, antibiotics need to be dispensed through Intra Venous (IV) drips in a hospital. For chronic infection, surgery may be recommended for

  • Draining the fluid in the middle ear through a procedure called Myringotomy. In this, the surgeon makes a tiny hole in the eardrum to drain the accumulated fluid and reduce the pressure on the middle ear. In some cases, a small tube may be inserted into the middle ear for ensuring continuous drainage and prevent the hole from closing. Subsequently, the tube usually falls off on its own within a period of six months to one year.
  • Removal of a portion of the severely affected mastoid bone by an operation called Mastoidectomy. This is recommended in case the symptoms don’t improve by the usage of IV antibiotics or further complications like abscess or bone erosion happen. Recovery period post mastoiditis surgery usually lasts for one to two weeks.

It is important to do regular follow-up appointments with the doctor in Mastoiditis treatment to rule out hearing problems and other serious medical conditions.

Some of the other home remedies that provide relief from pain and other symptoms of Mastoiditis include – 

  • Wearing earplugs while bathing and swimming to prevent the entry of water to the ears which can worsen the infection
  • Using over the counter (OTC) medications for reducing fever and aches
  • Taking sufficient rest
  • Remaining well hydrated
  • Giving a warm compression over the ears to reduce pain
  • Avoiding travel by air as it aggravates the pain

Prevention of Mastoiditis

It is possible to prevent the occurrence of Mastoiditis by avoiding ear infections and treating periodic or recurring ear infections (especially in the middle ear) with antibiotics. Ways to prevent infection of the ears are

  • Stopping the spread of cold and flu virus by maintaining proper hand hygiene and washing
  • Taking children away from secondary smoke as they are more susceptible to infection attacks if they are surrounded by smokers
  • Ensuring that the flu vaccine prescribed for children is administered annually
  • Limiting constant exposure from patients having cold and flu 

We have renowned ENT doctors in Kenya who can treat Mastoiditis successfully to avoid further health impediments. For more information regarding such ear infections and hearing loss treatment, please call us 0722279159 or visit us at KMA center Nairobi 3rd floor room 311.  

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