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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 2 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.

Ear Anatomy


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give medicine or liquids.

Neurological signs,

also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status may be monitored. During a neuro check, healthcare providers see how your child's pupils react to light. They may check his memory and how easily he wakes up. His hand grasp and balance may also be tested. How your child responds to the neuro checks can tell healthcare providers if his illness or injury has affected his brain.


  • Antibiotics help fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine for your child.
  • 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 or her. 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 may be given to decrease your child's pain and fever.


X-ray, CT, or MRI pictures may show bone damage, infection, or an abscess in your child's skull or brain. He may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his body.


  • A myringotomy is surgery to help release pressure in your child's ear by making a small hole in his eardrum. He may also need tubes placed into his ear to relieve pressure and drain fluid. This may improve his hearing.
  • A mastoidectomy is surgery to remove any infected part of your child's mastoid bone. Your child may need this surgery if his condition is severe, other treatments are not working, or he has a fever. He may also need mastoidectomy if he has an abscess inside his mastoid bone.
  • Drainage of an abscess in your child's ear, mastoid bone, or other areas in his skull may be needed. An abscess is an area that is swollen with fluid. Abscess drainage may be done if your child is not responsive, or if he has severe swelling in his brain.


Your child's mastoiditis infection may spread to other bones in his head, face, and neck. His symptoms may come back, even after treatment. The infection may cause bone loss if it is not treated right away. Mastoiditis may cause permanent hearing loss. Mastoiditis may also result in a brain infection, seizures, facial nerve damage, brain swelling, or meningitis. Meningitis is swelling of the tissue (meninges) that surrounds your child's brain and spine. Mastoiditis may also cause blood clots in your child's sinuses.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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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.

Learn more about Mastoiditis in Children (Inpatient Care)

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