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A mastoidectomy is a surgery to remove part of the mastoid bone just behind your ear. Arrange for someone to stay with you after surgery to monitor for complications. They may need to call 911 when you cannot.


Have someone call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure or lose consciousness.
  • You cannot be woken.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have pus or foul-smelling drainage coming from your ear.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have a headache, fever, and a stiff neck.
  • You have sharp ear pain that spreads to your face or jaw.
  • Your mouth droops on the side where you had surgery, and is numb.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have new or increased dizziness.
  • You feel fullness or pressure in your ear.
  • Your ear is red and swollen.
  • You have nausea and vomiting even after taking medicine
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Antinausea medicine may be given to prevent or treat nausea and vomiting.
  • Antihistamines help prevent allergy symptoms. Antihistamines may also help prevent nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
  • Ear drops may be given to decrease swelling.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your wound as directed:

Do not remove your bandage or packing until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Wash your hands before and after you touch your ear to prevent infection. Remove and replace cotton balls when they get wet or dirty. Check your ear for signs of infection such as swelling or pus. Do not stick anything into your ear other than what your healthcare provider tells you to.


Ask your healthcare provider when you can take a shower. Do not allow water to get into your ear for 6 to 8 weeks. Use ear plugs when you wash your hair or take a shower.

How to use ear drops:

Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you use ear drops. This helps prevent infection. You may need someone to help you place ear drops. Do the following:

  • Remove any cotton balls in your ear. Lie down on your side with your ear facing up. For children, gently pull the bottom of the ear down and back. This helps to open the ear canal. For adults, gently pull the top of your ear up and back towards the back of your head.
  • With your other hand, carefully drip the prescribed number of ear drops in your ear. Gently press on the front part of your ear (ear flap) to help the ear drops stay in your ear. Gently move the outside part of your ear back and forth to help the medicine reach your ear canal. Stay lying down in the same position (with your ear facing up) for 3 to 5 minutes.


  • Do not blow your nose, sneeze, or cough. If you have an eardrum graft, try not to blow your nose for 2 to 3 weeks. This may raise the pressure in your ear and cause your graft to move. If you need to blow your nose, sneeze, or cough, do so with your mouth open.
  • Move slowly to prevent dizziness. Sit up and stand slowly. Turn your head slowly. Ask someone to walk with you to prevent a fall. Ask someone to help you move rugs or other items in your home that you may trip on.
  • Limit activity for the first 24 hours to prevent nausea and dizziness. Slowly start to do more each day. Do not bend forward at the waist. Do not lift anything heavy for 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Return to your daily activities as directed.
  • Sleep with your head elevated to decrease swelling and help your ear drain. Use two pillows to prop your head up. Ask your healthcare provider if you should sleep with your wounded ear facing down or up.
  • Prevent infection. Do not touch your ear. Stay away from crowded places and people with respiratory infections.
  • Use a straw to drink liquids. It is normal to have some facial numbness after your surgery. A straw may help you drink more easily.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can irritate your ears and slow down your healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Do not travel by plane for at least 3 weeks after your surgery. Ask your healthcare provider when it will be safe for you to fly.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return to have your packing removed. You will need to have your hearing checked once you have healed from surgery. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.