Find out about mastoiditis, its causes and symptoms, and discover our tips for preventing this type of ear infection, which is most common among children.
Description and symptoms of mastoiditis
Mastoiditis is the name given to an infection in the mastoid bone (which is found behind the ear) that leads to inflammation that affects the ears and hearing. Its main cause is an acute middle ear infection that has not been properly treated.
The symptoms of mastoiditis present days or even weeks after the middle ear infection, when the bacterial infection spreads to the mastoid cells. Pus may form on the mastoid bone and the area behind the ear may become painfully red and inflamed.
Other possible symptoms of mastoiditis are:
- Fever and headaches
- Persistent, pulsating ear pain (otalgia)
- Ear discharge
- Painful swelling in the area
- Hearing loss, which can worsen gradually over time
Treatment for mastoiditis
Healthcare professionals will assess the symptoms of the patient with mastoiditis in order to begin treating the infection with antibiotics as soon as possible and prevent any further complications. Although mastoiditis is usually acute, it can become chronic, with less severe symptoms that persist over time.
Mastoiditis in children
Young children are more likely to develop this type of middle ear infection than adults, due to the immaturity of their Eustachian tubes, craniofacial deformities and allergies. Their immune systems are also more sensitive to external aggressors, which is why we recommend following four basic guidelines to prevent mastoiditis in children:
- Maintain good ear hygiene, avoiding the use of cotton buds.
- Protect your child’s ears from external aggressors such as cold air, water or sudden changes in temperature, which can lead to infections.
- Avoid exposing children to tobacco smoke.
- Be vigilant if your child has a cold or the flu: excess mucus can clog the Eustachian tube and cause hearing loss.
If your child complains of any discomfort or change in their hearing, visit your healthcare specialist in order to prevent this common middle ear issue from becoming a more serious mastoid infection.