Ear Infections: Mastoiditis
What is mastoiditis?
Mastoiditis is when there's an infection underneath the eardrum, so like an ear infection, but then it extends into the mastoid bone and it can extend into other structures around there so it can lead to a skin infection overlying the mastoid bone. It can also extend into the inner ear and cause more permanent hearing loss or it can affect the facial nerve that travels through the ear as well.
The mastoid is the bone that sits behind your external ear so it almost acts like a sinus for the ear, so it helps to aerate the ear and it's connected with the space underneath the eardrum. So when patients have mastoiditis they're usually a lot sicker than someone who has just a regular ear infection, so they usually have high fevers, lower activity levels, feeling pretty lethargic. In some cases they can present with a facial weakness or they can have swelling behind the ear that causes their external ear to protrude out.
How is mastoiditis treated?
Mastoiditis is typically treated with IV antibiotics in some cases we do have to go to surgery to drain the fluid that's developed within the mastoid or underneath the eardrum to help improve the ability for antibiotics to help with infection.
What are the dangers of mastoiditis?
Mastoiditis can have some severe complications and can be a dangerous infection if it's not treated adequately. In some cases it can cause that facial weakness in other cases it can extend into the tissue around the brain and cause meningitis or an abscess or a significant pus pocket within the brain tissue.
How common is mastoiditis?
Mastoiditis is rare as we've had newer vaccinations that usually cover the bacteria that cause that, the incidence has decreased and most kids that have ear infections, it's pretty rare to development into a mastoid infection.