What is mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis is a bacterial infection involving the mastoid process which is the projecting bone behind the ear. This condition typically develops if acute otitis media was inadequately treated and allowed to spread from the middle ear into the neighboring bone or mastoid process.

Most cases of mastoiditis are triggered by the pneumococcus bacteria. If this infection is not properly treated, it can lead to blood poisoning, deafness, meningitis, brain abscess or even death.

What are the indications of mastoiditis?

In most instances, the symptoms manifest days to weeks after the development of acute otitis media as the widening infection damages the interior region of the mastoid process. The buildup of pus can occur in the bone.

The skin that covers the mastoid process turns red, swollen and tender while the external ear is driven sideways and down. The other symptoms include pain around and within the ear and cream-like, profuse drainage from the ear. The pain can be persistent and throbbing. In most cases, the hearing loss can worsen progressively.

How it is diagnosed

The doctor usually comes with a diagnosis based on the symptoms experienced by the individual. Oftentimes, the doctor will require a CT scan to confirm a diagnosis.

When identifying the bacteria responsible for the infection, the doctor will take out a sample of the drainage from the ear so that the bacteria is cultured in the laboratory.


Many individuals who develop mastoiditis are usually given an antibiotic such as ceftriaxone intravenously. Those who are not severely sick might be given a fluoroquinolone antibiotic by mouth.

After the initial treatment, the doctor will use the results of the laboratory culture to figure out the suitable antibiotic to provide. The antibiotics might be given orally once the individual starts to recover and also continued for at least 2 weeks. In case an abscess started to form in the bone, it requires surgical drainage specifically mastoidectomy.



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