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Mastoiditis In Children


Mastoiditis is an infection in the air cells and mastoid bone of your child's skull. The mastoid bone is located behind your child's ear. Mastoiditis is most common in children younger than 4 years who have a history of ear infections. Mastoiditis is often caused by an ear infection that spreads. Your child's ear canal swells and traps fluid inside his ear. Trapped fluid causes bacteria to grow and spread to his mastoid bone.



  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your child's primary healthcare provider (PHP) how to give this medicine safely.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much your child should take and how often he should take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's PHP if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.
  • Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Follow up with your child's PHP or ear, nose, and throat specialist as directed:

Ask if your child will need certain hearing tests. These tests will help find any permanent hearing problems after he has healed from mastoiditis. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Help prevent ear infections that may lead to mastoiditis:

  • Keep your child away from cigarette smoke, or areas that smell like cigarette smoke.
  • Keep your child away from other children who are sick. Make other childcare arrangements if you need to.
  • Continue to breastfeed your child if you already are. This may reduce the risk of ear infections and mastoiditis.
  • Vaccines may help prevent ear infections and mastoiditis. Ask your child's PHP which vaccines are right for your child.

Wound care:

Ask your child's PHP how to care for any wounds your child may have after surgery. If your child has tubes in his ears, ask for information on how to care for them.

Contact your child's PHP or specialist if:

  • You think your child's medicine is not working.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child's symptoms, such as pain, redness, swelling, ear drainage, or hearing loss get worse.
  • Your child's fever gets worse, or does not go away with treatment.
  • Your child has a headache that does not go away with treatment.
  • Your child has weakness in his face.
  • Your child has a mass behind his ear that is red and swollen.
  • Your child has trouble hearing.
  • Your child has a seizure or loses consciousness.
  • Your child has a headache, fever, and a stiff neck.

© 2015 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.